Entrepreneurship and venture capital are both about the art of never giving up, while relentlessly adapting to conditions on the field.
“Business as sport” metaphors sometimes feel trite, but Angela Strange is literally the embodiment of this metaphor. She pushed herself to the limits training for the Canadian Olympic Marathon team (top 10 in Canada!); in the three years since I’ve met her, she has applied the same level of determination to dominate her new arena of fintech venture capital.
The “fintech team,” as I like to call Angela and myself, has had a very active few years. a16z’s fintech portfolio includes Affirm, Branch, Earnin, FlyHomes, HealthIQ, OpenDoor, OpenInvest, PeerStreet, Point, Quantopian, Robinhood, Stripe, Transferwise, and many more. Angela has been crucial to finding, sourcing, and helping many of these companies, their CEOs, and their teams. Entrepreneurs flock to her for her insights, as well as her terrific product sensibility as a former product lead at a startup bought by Google, and then as product manager for Google’s Chrome Mobile browser. With her engineering background and business expertise, including her role as former co-chair of C100, Angela has built a deep network from individual engineers to CEOs and is skilled at creating community to help our companies.
As we considered how to expand our fintech team in order to double-down on a sector we are extremely excited about, it became increasingly obvious that promoting Angela was not just the logical choice, but the best choice we could make. She has been an evangelist for describing the great opportunity for the “other 3 billion”, as smartphone penetration continues shooting upwards but financial services fail to keep up. And after publishing a full tear down on mortgages earlier this year, every entrepreneur tackling this complex product sought her out.
Traditional financial services are about 20% of GDP in most countries — but across the spectrum of insurance, banking, real estate, and payments (you name it!), they have largely failed to innovate, continuing to under-serve or unfairly penalize marginalized and unbanked segments of the population. Financial services startups today are no longer content with selling software to the dinosaurs. They are instead using the combination of software plus unchecked ambition to compete with these traditional service providers, full-stack. The opportunity is massive, and we are committed to being the leading firm in this space.
I am so grateful for Angela’s contributions to our firm in getting us to where we are, and incredibly excited for her to come into her own as an investor as our newest General Partner. Fintech startups take note, and incumbents beware!