Beth Karlsson

People, Strategy & Culture, Partner and CHRO. Menlo Park.

Venture is about having conviction in the long game. You have to be able to act decisively in a moment in order to win in the long run.

Beth joined Lightspeed in 2022 as CHRO to lead the firm’s people and culture strategy and brings over two decades of HR and operational experience, most recently serving as the VP of Talent at Pinterest. Throughout her career, she’s seen companies of all sizes and stages in moments of triumph and times of crisis. She’s scaled quickly, globally, and typically without having all the answers – but always having a strong belief in the direction they were headed.

These experiences have underscored her belief that success lies in the strength of your people. “Who you hire, why you hire them, how you organize, communicate, and inspire, how you make decisions…these are people related mechanisms and they require constant nurture to achieve long term success,” said Beth. 

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, with roots in the midwest farming industry on one side and a family of educators on the other, Beth learned at an early age to value hard work, optimism, teamwork, and how crucial self-awareness and personal learning in everything that you do. She was also surrounded by strong female role models growing up – “women who broke barriers, were courageous in their beliefs, and were unafraid to set the tone” – who influenced so much of who she is today. Beth is an advocate for workplace diversity and believes that we are only just beginning to understand how best to provide psychological safety and belonging for all identities so that people can be themselves, do their best work, and live their best lives. 

Beth moved to California almost twenty years ago with her first job as an HR Coordinator with Neiman Marcus. She then became an early hire within Apple Retail, along for the rocket ship ride that was their retail store growth, and starting her 12+ year tenure with the company. With Apple Retail, she learned the importance of “yes” and creativity, to innovate on the problem not the solution, and to learn from the brilliance of those around you.

Eight years later, she moved over to Apple Corporate on the company executive HR team where she learned the power of negotiation, influence and sensing the moment. And most recently, Beth spent four and a half years building and leading Pinterest people teams, including oversight of their IPO in 2019. “Pinterest taught me the importance of pace and purpose, and balancing creativity and risk with infrastructure and process,” she said. 

Beth lives in Marin with her husband Nik and their two sons, Oskar and Henry, and enjoys spending time outside on bikes, hikes, beaches and trails. She also loves to read books, cook for her family, and put her feet up on a beach.

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