Today we are excited to share Laura Chau and Rayfe Gaspar-Asaoka have both been promoted to Partner.
Venture is a funny mix of old and new. Our firm was founded over 33 years ago and we’ve built a legacy of high returns balanced with partnership stability. New leaders are an important part of our approach -- no one finds success in venture by funding old ideas.
Both Laura and Rayfe have proven they see what others cannot. Their perspectives have led to significant bets for Canaan in unconventional companies. Over the past several years, each has been instrumental in building out new sector areas for the firm – Laura with consumer and Rayfe with frontier tech.
As we look to the next decade and beyond, we’re pleased to have leaders like Rayfe and Laura helping steer the firm. Both were recognized by Forbes “30 under 30,” although we’re proud to say we knew them well before that distinction.
Here is a little more about each of them.
Laura invests in consumer technology at Canaan, spanning e-commerce, marketplaces, and consumer internet. She’s also placed some bets that have only become more exciting as norms continue to shift.
Nate is one example. The company makes buying anything online one-click – beyond auto-filling firms, the technology actually clicks through each aspect of the checkout and applies the appropriate customer information. She’s also helping lead the conversation around the next generation of social media – writing that the next great consumer companies won’t be exclusive clubs but include cults. Many of her investments, announced and unannounced, follow this thesis including a new media company and a marketplace company. Laura has gone out of her way to be a convener -- especially of women – and often creates gatherings that are both intimate and filled with interesting peers, including operators, founders, and other consumer investors. Many claim to do this but Laura is a true expert.
Rayfe joined the firm in 2015 and since then, has consistently upped our nerd credentials. Today he focuses on deep tech investments including artificial intelligence/machine learning, autonomous vehicles, robotics, space, and open-source enterprise and infrastructure software.
In November 2018 Rayfe led the Series A in Apex.AI, a universal operating system for autonomous vehicles – Toyota, Volvo and others eventually joined as investors. Unlike standard operating systems for an iPhone or computer, Apex.AI’s platform optimizes for safety and stability instead of processing speed. READY Robotics takes a similar approach to a different sector: robotics. The company offers an operating system compatible with any robot made by any manufacturer (impressive given the 30+ robot programming languages). But Rayfe doesn’t just do frontier tech. In 2019, Rayfe led the seed round in Fireflies.AI, a tool that automatically joins Zoom, Google Hangout, and other remote-work platforms to transcribe conversations and create a digital notebook for team collaboration. Today the idea seems obvious in our remote-first world and Fireflies traffic is surging.
Each of these accomplishments from Rayfe and Laura is impressive but oftentimes what’s not listed in a term sheet or board doc is even more important – both have conducted themselves with kindness, incredible work ethic, and empathy for founders. At Canaan, we believe any accomplishment is built on a person’s reputation. At a time of quick tweets and hot takes, Rayfe and Laura have built respect from peers, entrepreneurs and the broader venture ecosystem.
Please join us in congratulating Laura and Rayfe.