Long before Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, George Clooney, Val Kilmer or even Michael Keaton donned the cape, Batman was Adam West. He starred in the Batman TV show of the 1970s, which was one of my favorites as a kid. In the show, Police Commissioner Jim Gordon used a special Batphone to dial up Batman (aka Bruce Wayne) and Robin (aka Dick Grayson) whenever something was about to go down in Gotham City. In a flash, Batman and Robin would dawn their superhero suits and speed off in the Batmobile to take on the enemy, rescue the citizens of Gotham and save the day.
At Lightspeed we invest in the entrepreneur and the first thing we do is install a Batphone. Not a big red rotary dial phone; thankfully, technology has evolved since the 70s. What I mean is we strive to be the entrepreneur’s first call. The Batphone model has been in place at Lightspeed for decades — since our inception. And it works. It allows our founders to have a direct line to us, and lets us respond with urgency and engage with founders when, where and how we can be most impactful. Like Batman and Robin, we’re in the service of our citizens…and our service goes far beyond capital.
Over the years we’ve had the privilege of working with amazing founders and helping them grow from infancy to IPO or acquisition in many cases. We know the scrappiness and the elbow grease required. And the importance of not just thinking like an entrepreneur, but rolling up our sleeves and being an entrepreneur — to be builders of great companies with great founders.
With this in mind, I’m thrilled to welcome both Brian Kasser and Meredith Kendall to Lightspeed — two fantastic individuals who are true builders. Brian joins Lightspeed as our Partner in charge of executive level talent for Lightspeed and our portfolio of companies. Meredith joins as Vice President of Marketing to lead marketing initiatives for Lightspeed overall and support the marketing efforts of our founders and their teams. We are thrilled the Lightspeed family of entrepreneurs will be able to leverage Brian and Meredith’s deep expertise. We recognized their high IQ and EQ immediately, and we’re excited to see our portfolio companies put both to good use.
Brian Kasser most recently led the global Software and SaaS Practice for Russell Reynolds Associates, based in Palo Alto. His experience includes working with publicly traded and venture-funded technology companies with a significant focus on CEO, COO, President and Board level assignments, as well as senior-level/worldwide sales, financial, corporate development and marketing functions. Prior to joining Russell Reynolds Associates, Brian worked at Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers and Thomas Weisel Partners, where he joined at the firm’s inception in early 1999. Brian received his undergraduate BA degree in economics from Vanderbilt University. He received his MBA in finance from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. (Fun fact: While at Vanderbilt, Brian played Varsity Football for the Commodores and also served as the Interfraternity Council President).
Brian understands that the companies in our portfolio are only as strong as the women and men who lead them. A Silicon Valley native, for years Brian has been in the business of high stakes match-making, with the mission of bringing the right talent to the right company at the right time. He comes to Lightspeed with 13 years of executive search experience placing hundreds of leaders in many of the tech industry’s top organizations, both in Silicon Valley and worldwide. His track record combined with his deep network of influencers and innovators perfectly positions him to evaluate the skills, expertise, leadership, and culture fit required to help build our portfolio companies for the future.
Meredith Kendall was Head of Communications at Hulu where she led external communications for the company across key areas including corporate, content, product, advertising and distribution. During her more than three years at Hulu, the company developed its first Hulu Original series, received its first Emmy nomination, and grew its U.S. subscriber base to over six million users. Meredith is most proud of growing the communications team threefold during her tenure. Meredith started out at Google HQ on the Global Communications & Public Affairs team. She joins us from The Pramana Collective, a communications consultancy where she worked with founders and companies across a wide array of industries — from video and social messaging platforms, to drones and high speed transportation. Meredith is an angel investor in Color Genomics and Munchery and sits on the advisory board for zkipster. She holds a Masters in Communications and Bachelors degrees in English and Music from Stanford University. (Fun fact: Meredith was a talent manager on American Idol seasons seven and eight.)
Meredith brings a unique perspective on marketing and communications to Lightspeed, having sat both inside and outside high growth, high profile companies. Meredith is a masterful architect of stories, and has helped many a founder find their voice, and many a team find their True North by providing strategic counsel and tactical advice based on her experience of what works, and equally as important, what doesn’t work. She goes in search of non-obvious creative solutions to the communications challenges that a founder and their team will inevitably face in their growth cycle.
We’re not building an army of service people at Lightspeed. When you call Lightspeed, you’re getting Brian or Meredith at the other end of the Batphone. At a time when a lot of VCs are being louder in what sometimes appears to be more self-serving than entrepreneur-serving, Lightspeed is taking a different approach — the Lightspeed approach. We’ve been head down, fighting the ground war shoulder-to-shoulder with our founders. And now, better equipped than ever, we remain at the ready on our Batphone.