CapitalG partner Laela Sturdy is on track to be one of the year’s biggest investors.
Photos courtesy of Laela Sturdy
Alphabet’s growth stage venture arm, CapitalG, has named Laela Sturdy its new leader. The move means CapitalG will be one of the few venture firms to be led by a female partner. The industry still has few women and people of color as partners, let alone in leadership positions.
CapitalG Founder David Lawee, who previously served as Google’s first chief marketing officer and VP of Corporate Development, will be stepping down after a decade at CapitalG and 17 years at Alphabet.
Generally speaking, CapitalG invests a lot like other growth-stage firms, but with only one limited partner as an investor — its parent company, Alphabet. It is distinct from Alphabet’s early-stage venture arm, GV (formerly Google Ventures). Both are part of Alphabet’s “Other Bets” group, which also includes experimental projects like Waymo self-driving cars.
Sturdy made a big impression on the industry and within the Alphabet firm in the last few years, investing in household names like Stripe and Duolingo, who’ve told CNBC she’s helped them with more than just monetary value.
Among Sturdy’s investments are 10 companies that have held a valued at more than $1 billion at some point in the last two years, including at least one of the most hotly anticipated public offerings of 2021, automation software company UiPath.
The CapitalG change also comes at a challenging time for venture funding and initial public offerings. Economic uncertainty and recession concerns have led to budget-slashing and plummeting startup valuations over the last year, and it isn’t expected to reach reprieve anytime soon.
Sturdy joined Google in 2007 in a strategy and marketing role, later moving into a sales role. Google had just bought YouTube and wondered how it would sell multiple products and evolve beyond a Search company. Then in 2010, Sturdy began leading Google’s emerging businesses, overseeing the growth of new ads and commerce products like Adwords Express and Google Offers.
“I kind of made it a point to know who all the stars were inside of Google, and Laela’s name came up a lot,” Lawee told CNBC in 2021. “It came from people I trusted like Claire Johnson, Sheryl Sandberg — some of the most successful women in Silicon Valley over the last decade.”
“I would say the value Laela has provided has been significantly higher than the money anyone’s provided″ Duolingo CEO Luis Von Ahn told CNBC at the time. “I can grab a drink with her and just be the most honest with her when I’m having an issue or if something’s not working.”