I still remember when I first met Jeff Veen, when he was not yet a close friend and colleague to me, but a generous designer in the room next door. Sphere, a company Toni Schneider and I co-founded, had just wrapped up our MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and were ready to launch. This was in an era that “launching” was a bit more casual, so we were about to kick off a series of meetings with thought-leaders and bloggers about our new product—but something was missing. The underlying tech piece was performing and the design was beautiful, but we were missing that one little feature that everyone remembers later. The designer in the room next door was building Measure Map, and had shown us the product he was building, which included a little slider that allowed you to narrow or increase the data set you displayed. It was kinda amazing. I sheepishly asked him if we could borrow the code to add to Sphere and, to my surprise, he said “yes.” He actually gave us the code to his feature! That is when I first met Jeff, one of today’s most respected designers, and now a longtime partner to me and the team at True.
Our early collaboration gave Jeff and me a good reason to stay in touch, and most of True’s founding team has had a relationship with Jeff in one way or another over the years. He was the Founder of Adaptive Path and Measure Map (acquired by Google), an executive at Google and an active blogger that many of us followed. And in early 2009, we learned that he, along with Bryan Mason, Greg Veen and Ryan Carver, wanted to start something called Small Batch (most definitely not a distillery but a place to explore bringing a few ideas they were kicking around to life). We caught up to learn more about their plans, and after a few more discussions and some convincing, they chose True to lead a seed round investment. We were joined by some of the most respected Founders and investors on the web, including Evan Williams (Medium/Twitter), Matt Mullenweg (Automattic/WordPress), Caterina Fake (Flickr/Findery) and Chris Sacca (Lowercase Capital), along with a number of other leading angel investors. When Small Batch developed Typekit, a tool for bringing real typography to web design, True led the company’s Series A investment and I joined the board. After a few years, Typekit was acquired by Adobe in one of True’s earliest Fund II exits.
Jeff is known for his prescient thoughts about the intersection of design and technology, his deep understanding of product and his friendships with most of the other thought-leaders in our industry. He is the most loyal and thoughtful friend an entrepreneur/investor could ever ask for, including all of us at True. Few people in Silicon Valley are as respected, and as someone who has known Jeff for a long time, I can say with absolute authority that few people are as kind.
True Ventures was founded with the ambitious goal of making the world a better place for entrepreneurs. We thought Founders were the most powerful force in the U.S. economy, and with that as our platform, we set out to create a new kind of venture capital firm that even empowers an investor such as myself to pursue building a startup in parallel to my investing focus.
That is why it is an incredible honor to announce today that Jeff Veen will join True as a design partner and about.me as head of product. He’ll stay in both of these roles for a good chunk of 2015. You can read his thoughts here. We are unbelievably excited to have him join our respective teams. Jeff personifies our collective love affair with design and technology, and we are so looking forward to having him, his big ideas and his generosity around a lot more.