What Trident Capital’s First Female Partner Thinks We Need in VC
Good morning, Term Sheet Readers.
Robert Hackett here, filling in for Polina today.
The RSA Conference, the computer security industry’s biggest confab, kicked off in San Francisco this week. Originally, the event’s organizers booked just one woman for its keynote speaker lineup: Monica Lewinsky, a non-technologist who was once the center of scandal in former President Bill Clinton’s White House and who is now a cyber-bullying activist. The other 19 spots went to men.
In an attempt to address heavy criticism over the gender imbalance, the organizers revised the speaker list. The new one bills seven female keynote speakers out of 23 total, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; Jane McGonigal, a game designer; and Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization that teaches software development to women. Much better.
It’s within this context that I present today’s newsletter: a Q&A with Myrna Soto, who has just been hired as the first female partner at Trident Capital Cybersecurity, a San Mateo, Calif.-based venture capital firm focused exclusively on digital security. Soto was formerly a senior vice president and global chief information security officer of Comcast. She sits on two public companies’ boards: Spirit Airlines and Consumers Energy. Last month she landed on Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Latinas in Business” list for the second consecutive year. We’re fans of her work.
Here’s my conversation with Soto, edited for clarity and brevity.
RH: Being a Latina in an industry that is so predominantly male and white, how do you feel about the importance of diversity?
MS: Well, it’s certainly a very key pillar of mine from a leadership perspective. I’ve been an advocate, a diversity advocate, in every organization that I’ve been in. I’m proud to say that I’ve been many firsts. I’ve been the first woman to be in the room, the first Latina to be at that senior level at Comcast. It is very important to me that those firsts continue.
I’m very proud of the fact that this opportunity to join Trident will be another first. My mentees—or the people in the community who are watching and aspiring—they’re very encouraged when they see things like this.
What advice do you have for your followers?
Follow the passion without focusing on the impossible. In other words, “I’ll never get into venture capital because there’s not enough women in venture capital.” I say, you know what? My advice to you is to change that. Be part of that change. What is it that you need to do to be part of that, to position yourself for potential opportunity? Do not limit your desires based on what you may see today. You may see that the ecosystem doesn’t look like you, but the tide is changing.
What has your experience of serving on corporate boards taught you?
I don’t necessarily think that everybody in the boardroom needs to be a cyber expert, just like everybody in the boardroom doesn’t need to be a legal expert or a finance expert. But having that right balance of skill sets in the boardroom is incredibly effective.
Why did you decide to join the venture capital industry?
I was ready to make a jump and do something different. I wanted to apply all of my experience into something I’m really passionate about, which is the next phase of innovation around security, the ability to foster and nurture entrepreneurs.
As an ex-CISO, what advice do you have for the many startups at RSA Conference who are hoping to get attention and close deals?
The challenge becomes how are you any different than the problem that your next-door neighbor in the expo hall is trying to solve? I’ve been across the table being pitched to, so I understand the dynamics of what makes sense, what grabs the attention of a particular buyer. If I’m wearing my old CISO hat the question becomes what are you solving for me?
What areas of cybersecurity are you most interested in funding? What do you think the hot new trends are?
There are a lot of focus areas that are going to be key as we move forward. Analytics, threat intelligence, you could throw in there, if you’d like to use the buzzword of the year, artificial intelligence. I believe we still have a lot to do in the securing of our digital identities. Last but not least, the evaluation of potential blockchain technologies and how they may fit into cybersecurity from an audit-logging and information-sharing perspective. I think blockchain may have a play in managing our digital identities as well.
What are your goals as a VC?
Someone asked me personally what would I like to see in venture capital over the next five to 10 years. Well, I’d love to see a heck of a lot more women in partner roles. I’m not sure of the stats, but I know it’s very small today. I certainly want to see a higher percentage of investments for minority-owned startups and women-founded startups. I think it’s very, very critical. One of my core values is walking the talk, advocating for the communities that I represent.
Note from Lucinda: In yesterday’s edition we mistyped the name of the firm funding video game maker Level Ex. It is OSF Ventures, not SF Ventures. We regret the error!
Send deals to Lucinda.Shen@Fortune.com.
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
• Google Showcases Virtual 3D Models of Breathtaking Endangered World Wonders (by Jonathan Vanian)
• Why Netflix Stock Jumped as Much as 8% to an (Almost) All-Time High (by Aaron Pressman)
• Coinbase Buys Bitcoin Startup Earn.com, Hires CEO as Chief Technology Officer (by Robert Hackett)
• Allegiant Air CEO’s Net Worth Is $52 Million Lower After ‘60 Minutes’ Segment Questions Safety (by Lucinda Shen)
A Fyre Festival documentary is coming to Hulu. Elon Musk Raises $100 Million for Boring Company. People are choosing cheaper death options. South Korea crypto ban skirted. Sanofi in talks to sell generics arm to Advent for $2.4 billion. Actis close to buying solar assets. Tinted glass in airports boosts sales. Softbank among Tronc’s potential bidders.
• QingKe, a Shanghai-based rental apartment service, raised $100 million in funding. Morgan Stanley Asia and Crescent Point led the round.
• Scality, a San Francisco-based leader in multi-cloud control firm, raised $60 million in funding. Investors include Harbert European Growth Capital.
• Drift, a Boston-based marketing and sales platform, raised $60 million in Series C funding. Sequoia Capital led the round.
• LimFlow SA, a Paris-based critical limb ischemia solutions maker, raised $33.5 million in Series C funding. Sofinnova Partners led the round.
• Qapital, a New York-based finance management platform, raised $30 million in new funding. Swedbank Robur led the round and was joined by investors including Northzone.
• Harbor, a San Francisco-based blockchain platform, raised $28 million in funding. Founders Fund led the round and was joined by investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Pantera Capital, as well as existing investors Craft Ventures, Vy Capital, and Valor Equity Partners.
• Tempo Automation, a San Francisco-based low-volume electronics manufacturer, raised $20 million Series B funding. P72 Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including existing investors Lux Capital, Uncork Capital, and AME, as well as new investors Industry Ventures, Dolby Ventures, and Cendana.
• Instant Financial, a Vancouver-based financial technology startup, raised $11.4 million in Series A funding. TTV Capital based led the round and was joined by investors including ITC Partners Fund, Kinetic Ventures, and Real Ventures.
• AppOnboard, a Los Angeles-based platform for app developers, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Korea Investment Partners (KIP) led the round and was joined by investors including Mirae Asset Management, Mantaray, MTG, and Runa Capital.
• Ceterus, a Charleston, S.C.-based provider of accounting and benchmarked reporting solutions for entrepreneurs,raised $10 million in Series B funding. Harbert Growth Partners led the round and was joined by investors including TechOperators, Grotech Ventures, Idea Fund Partners, and Alerion Ventures.
• Carpe, a Durham, N.C.-based skincare startup for hand and foot sweating, raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Carolina Angel Network and Duke Angel Network led the round and was joined by investors including LaunchCapital, Rubicon Venture Capital, and Triangle Angel Partners.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Vantage Specialty Chemicals Holdings, an H.I.G. Capital portfolio company, acquired B&B Tritech, a Hialeah, Fla.-based surface treatment solutions for commercial aviation.
• ProKarma Inc, a portfolio company of Carlyle Group, will merge with Lenati Financial, a Seattle-based marketing strategy consultancy. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Bridg, a Los-Angeles based data-driven marketing firm, acquired Relevant Mobile, a POS-integrated mobile app, loyalty and rewards program developer. Bridg investors include March Capital Partners, Morpheus Ventures, NextEquity Partners, and Visa.
• PeopleFacts, an SNH Capital Partners I portfolio company, acquired TRAK-1, a Tulsa, Okla.-based screening platform with millions of criminal records that complement both platforms’ suite of screening products.
• Proteintech Group, acquired HumanZyme, a Chicago-based manufacturer of recombinant human proteins. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Commonwealth Bank of Australia , the nation’s largest bank, plans to list its investment management business this year in a deal that could raise about $3.1 billion (AUS$4 billion). Read more.
• Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank, the country’s largest private bank, is seeking the country’s largest IPO ever at $922 million. Read more.
• Goosehead Insurance, a Westlake, Texas-based insurance firm, plans to raise $127.5 million in an IPO of 8.5 million shares priced between $14 to $16 apiece. J.P. Morgan and BofA Merrill Lynch are underwriters in the deal. The firm plans to list on the Nasdaq as “GSHD.” Read more.
• PluralSight, a Farmington, Ut.-based cloud-based learning platform, filed to raise up to $100 million. Insight Ventures Partners (53% pre-offering), ICONIQ Strategic Partners (9.3%), and Keith Sparkjoy (7.4%) back the firm. Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Barclays, BofA Merrill Lynch are underwriters in the deal. The firm plans to list on the Nasdaq as “PS.” Read more.
• Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker, picked Citic Securities for an IPO in Hong Kong, Bloomberg reports citing sources. Read more.
• An investment group led by Charlesbank Capital Partners, Partners Group (acting on behalf of its clients), and the company’s management agreed to acquire Hearthside Food Solutions, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based nutrition bar and snack supplier, from Goldman Sachs and Vestar Capital Partners.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• LaSalle Investment Management raised over $1.1 billion for LaSalle Asia Opportunity. Read more.
• Amherst Pierpont Securities hired Steven Abrahams as Senior Managing Director and Head of Strategy.
• Antares Capital appointed Timothy Lyne as senior managing director and co-head of Sponsor Coverage and Vivek Mathew as head of Asset Management and funding.
• Norwest Equity Partners hired Tony Armand as an operating partner. Armand was previously CEO of United Sports Brands.