"I have a deep understanding of the pain and joy of our most important asset: our founders."
In 2006, when Yoni joined Lightspeed to head up the firm’s investment team in Israel, he brought with him more than 15 years of operating experience. At heart he’s an entrepreneur, someone who’s served a variety of roles—co-founder, CEO, chairman, investor—for nearly a dozen software companies, including Demantra (acquired by Oracle), Agentics (acquired by Mercado), and Traiana (acquired by ICAP).
“I have a deep understanding of the pain and joy of our most important asset,” he says, “our founders.”
Prior to his career as an entrepreneur, Yoni earned a BSc in applied mathematics from Tel-Aviv University and an MSc in applied mathematics and computer science from the Weizmann Institute of Science. Later, he ran product management and business development for Click Software.
At Lightspeed, he’s filled out his portfolio with investments in a variety of sectors, including Internet, digital media, mobile, communications, software, semiconductors, and cleantech. “I have to like the market opportunity,” he says.
Still, even with a great market opportunity, he won’t compromise when it comes to the qualities he looks for in a founder—a mixture of passion, intelligence, sense of mission, honesty, and leadership. “They come in all forms and flavors,” he says. “And if you look at my portfolio, each one is unique in his or her special way.”
More than just unique, however, there must be something “positively crazy” about the founders he works with. “I try to meet as many entrepreneurs as possible, and I try to keep a very open mind to ideas that may seem crazy.”
When he’s not with family, sharing Friday dinners with his kids and their friends, he can be found on the water, kayaking or rowing. “Somehow that makes me a better, or at least calmer, person—a good trait in my line of work.”