Do operators make the best VCs?

29 April 2021 | Applicable law: US | 55 minute listen

Episode 2 of Withers talks: founders counsel

For the second episode of Founders Counsel, three dynamic and successful operators (Silicon Valley speak for executives) who became venture capitalists discuss how they broke into the Silicon Valley VC world, what their experiences were like as outsiders, and how they faced and overcame barriers as they progressed in Silicon Valley. These guests also share their experiences as founders and senior executives.

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In a particularly timely discussion, host Doug Mandell also explores with the guests, who are all female and also represent diverse backgrounds, their views on the lack of diversity in the Silicon Valley ecosystem, including ways forward to achieve a more diverse environment, how it personally felt and feels to them, and the opportunity that must be seized now.

How can you pivot from being an executive to an investor? What do these top VCs advise that you do to make a move into venture? When is the right time? What does it mean to have a “personal board of directors,” who should be on it, and why everyone should have their own personal board. Listen as our guests share their best advice for operators and VCs.


Richelle Parham – Managing director at WestRiver Group, a Seattle-based venture, debt, and equity company with $2B in assets under management (AUM). Prior to WRG, Richelle was a partner at private equity firm Camden Partners and served as chief marketing officer of eBay. Richelle also served in numerous executive leadership positions at Visa Inc., Rapp, and Digitas. Richelle also currently serves on the board of directors of Shyn, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Best Buy, and LabCorp.

Tina Sharkey – Serial entrepreneur, advisor, and former VC partner at Sherpa Capital (now Acme). Tina has driven innovation in media, commerce, and community for more than two decades, pioneering the development and adoption of pivotal consumer brands and platforms that bring data and technology together. A C-suite executive, entrepreneur, investor, and change agent, she has created, led, and scaled global brands and businesses that have transformed the way we communicate, shop, and share. Tina is currently on the board of directors of PBS and IPSY.

Mallun Yen – Founder and partner of Operator Collective, a venture fund and community that pioneered a disruptive new approach to venture capital. Operator Collective brings together as limited partners (LPs) a group critical to a startup’s success but largely absent from the venture ecosystem — senior operating leaders from diverse backgrounds. Operator Collective launched its debut $50M+ fund in December 2019 with 100+ operator LPs (90% women, 40% people of color) and was joined by notable institutional LPs as well. Mallun previously built and scaled three other successful, category-creating startups. She was previously vice president of Worldwide IP at Cisco and COO of SaaStr. She currently serves on the board of directors for KQED, Northern California’s public media organization.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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