Behaving As If

Today we are publicly announcing Mike Dempsey’s new role as Managing Partner of Compound.

While this won’t be a surprise to many of our founders and investors, we thought it was important to formalize this as we plan to evolve and continue to grow over the coming years. I’ll remain heavily involved in the firm’s growth, focused primarily on the areas I’m most passionate about: helping founders at the earliest stages with commercialization and team building.

I tend to look at professional milestone timelines, both personally and professionally, in decades. In early-stage investing things take a long time. This is even more true for us at Compound as we often partner with founders at their earliest stages, often in complex and emerging categories. The old adage of there is no such thing as an overnight success that doesn’t take 10 years is something we internalize daily.

My experience as an operator has always been a guiding force of how I view my job as an investor. I have always loved the earliest stages of company creation. It’s more art, more creative, less structure, more idealism, and chaos in the best way.

Prior to launching what is now Compound, I built and ran a vertical business development team that was sales channel agnostic and very strategic to our lofty commercial goals at Google. Digital advertising and publishing were still nascent but gaining more credibility, however, it was sold in a very horizontal manner. We felt the need to get smarter in an industry-specific capacity looking both top down and bottoms up across the taxonomy of every category. This domain expertise shaped my thinking around adding value and having an edge in evaluating where the world had been, and where it was going.

My lightbulb moment about the type of firm I wanted to help build and spend my time in occurred a couple years prior to leaving Google as I began to angel invest with the hopes of spreading some of my learnings to other founders. In this process of helping my first few investments scale and raise capital, I knew I wanted to build something smarter, deeper, and with a focus on EQ, versus what I had seen in the venture market.

I launched Metamorphic Ventures in 2010 and we were off building the vertically focused platform I had hoped to see exist, alongside focusing on helping founders with commercialization and team building. It was a simpler time in venture capital, where many firms were rated on their access and network and many deal sourcing moments were predicated on serendipity. While we excelled in these areas we also wanted to focus on specific sectors we knew, and thus our first two Metamorphic funds had specific top down focus areas (media/commerce/payments intersecting and disruption of traditional industry via mobile).

However, as venture became more competitive, I knew we too had to adapt.

My time at google built fundamental business and life skills and some expressions that have stayed with me to this day. Things like A players hire A players (aka hire people smarter than you), the famous airport test, and the value of “acting as if” with the spirit of getting things done in service of a larger goal.

These themes are apparent as I think about my partner, Mike Dempsey. Mike and I spent a lot of time getting to know each other and as a firm we spent even more trying to recruit Mike. He joined us in 2016 as we re-launched the firm as Compound, with excitement that he represented the qualities above, and that he could help us continue to evolve in the ever changing venture landscape.

Mike has always struck me as one of the smartest people around. He always has a clear point of view, caring deeply about being well researched and very versatile in his thoughts. If you’ve spoken to him, worked with him, or even just spent time on his twitter or blog, you’ll quickly understand this as well.

Upon joining, Mike elevated our scope, sharpened our focus, and positioned us to scale as a thesis-driven, research-centric investment firm focusing on categories such as AI/ML, Crypto, Healthcare & Biology, and Robotics. I’ve never met such a right brain/left brain combination of a human. We were all learning so much every day.

Mike and I celebrating the launch of a new investment vehicle

Building a company isn’t a straight line. We talk about this a lot. One of the things we care most about when partnering with founders is a focus on emotional intelligence and building strong relationships. This holds true when building a venture firm. As we’ve spent the past 6 years together, my trust in Mike’s EQ, investing acumen, and ability to execute on our large scope of ambition has never been stronger. He also (literally) passes the airport test with flying colors.

Moving Forward

There is a book called Good to Great that I have read and often send to founders. The author talks about the concept of getting the right people on the bus, getting the wrong people off (definitely have had my share of that) and lastly getting the right people in the correct seat.

When thinking about the next 10+ years for Compound I took many long looks in the mirror. As we’ve continued to grow, I’ve realized where my time is best spent and that my passion lies is in helping founders at the earliest stages with commercialization and team building coupled with developing meaningful relationships with our investors. I want to more deeply commit to this side of our business and build upon the great successes of our Compound entrepreneur and investor community. This shift will allow me to accelerate my output in these areas.

At the same time, Mike has been increasingly actively leading the firm across investing and institutional fund management, as well as shaping the future strategy in a variety of ways we’ll be talking about soon. It is because of this that this new role won’t be a surprise to any of our founders or investors who know us well and more so is just a proper naming convention. Mike has been behaving as if for years.

I’m convinced with Mike as Managing Partner, Compound will be in a place to achieve our lofty goals as an investment firm. Goals that Mike and I have been crafting as a shared vision and tight partnership for years.

I couldn’t be more excited to continue to build Compound with Mike as he steps into this new role of Managing Partner and gives Compound’s partnership the ability to focus on the areas that allow us to build the firm we strive to become in the coming decades.

Thank you and congratulations Mike,

David

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Compound

Compound

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Compound is an early stage VC firm that invests in early stage technology companies disrupting or enabling traditional industries.