AWS, Venture Capital, & Global Entrepreneurship with Nancy Wang

Episode Summary

In this episode of Screaming In The Cloud, we're joined by Nancy Wang, Venture Partner at Felicis Ventures, who discusses her exciting career shift from AWS to venture capital. Nancy shares the role of a venture partner and her focus on investing in infrastructure, platforms, and security from an operational perspective. Corey and Nancy talk about primary investment and the impact of market trend cycles on venture capital. Nancy’s work with the U.S. State Department is also highlighted in this episode, which promotes global entrepreneurship, especially for women in challenging environments.

Episode Video

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

Show Highlights 
(00:00) - Introduction 
(02:00) - What a venture partner does 
(03:42) - Nancy shares how she differentiates herself in her role and experience 
(07:07) - Insights on selecting companies to invest In 
(09:18) - The differences between working at Amazon vs. the VC and startup world
(12:09) - Investing in infrastructure and security startups
(17:09) - The balance between supporting established services and investing In new  
(19:18) - Exploring how different sectors influence venture capital investments 
(23:50) - AI and current investment trends in shaping venture capital decisions
(26:06) - Timing of investments, and the concept of 'entry points' for success
(27:22) - Nancy shares her work with the state department 
(30:44) - Closing thoughts and where to find Nancy 

About Nancy: 

Nancy is a product & engineering executive, advisor, and investor with significant experience in cloud computing, cybersecurity, and SaaS. Nancy advises Fortune 10 companies on accelerating revenue growth, and she advises startups on attracting their first 100K enterprise customers. She is a Venture Partner with Felicis Ventures, where she invests in early-stage startups in cybersecurity, enterprise infrastructure, and B2B SaaS. Previously, Nancy was the Director of Product & Engineering and General Manager at Amazon Web Services, where she leads P&L, product, engineering, and design for its data protection and security businesses - and currently serves as the technical advisor to Commvault (NASDAQ: CVLT) on its Cyber Resilience Council. Prior to Amazon, she led SaaS product development at Rubrik, the fastest-growing enterprise software unicorn, and built for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Excited to advance more women into technical roles, Nancy is the founder & board chair of Advancing Women in Tech, a global 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has already informed and educated 35,000 Coursera learners worldwide on how to get their first, or next, tech leadership role and partners with the U.S. State Department.

Links referenced: 

  • Panoptica Academy:


Nancy: If you're going to measure everything on the same scale of ARR or number of customers, then you may not end up investing in some truly experimental new products.

Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn. My returning guest today is Nancy Wang, but unlike. Her previous appearances on this show, you're not an AWS anymore. Instead, you're a venture partner at Felicis Ventures. Congratulations on the transition. And what the heck is a venture partner? I know what a general partner is and a limited partner, but a venture partner is a new term for me.

Nancy: You know, that's a great question, Corey. And since last time I came on your show, you know, more than just one thing has changed, which is in addition to not being an Amazon anymore. Look, there's also sun behind me, which also means I've moved to San Francisco.

Corey: Oh, you looked around Seattle and said your biggest problem with this space is just not expensive enough.

So you came here to San Francisco. Welcome.

Nancy: You know, I could ask the same about you as well.

Corey: This episode has been sponsored by our friends at Panoptica, part of Cisco. This is one of those real rarities where it's a security product that you can get started with for free, but also scale to enterprise grade.

Take a look. In fact, if you sign up for an enterprise account, they'll even throw you one of the limited, heavily discounted AWS Skill Builder licenses they got, because believe it or not, unlike so many companies out there, they do understand AWS. To learn more, please visit panoptica. app slash last week in AWS.

That's panoptica. app slash last week in AWS. I was living in Los Angeles. I got depressed and sad because it was, the weather was always gorgeous. And, you know, we just can't have that. It's like, I'm a mopey zoo lion. Where can I go that really reflects that attitude a bit more and charges me for the privilege?

Nancy: Exactly. The fog, you know, you got to pay for that privilege. Um, well, look, to answer your question about venture partnering, it's a new term I think that has, uh, a lot of VCs are very curious about what venture partners do. So you'll see folks like me kind of pop up at, you know, firms like, for example, Felicis where I work.

There's actually another venture partner as well, who was a former operator from Google, Microsoft ran his own company, and now he's actually an SVP at Canva. There's others, for example, like Tamara Yehoshua, who is a chief product officer at Slack, was the venture partner at IVP, which is a growth stage fund.

And you'll see more and more of these examples. In my opinion, I think it's actually a great mix of folks who have built products before, who've sold products before, but who are now interested in getting that perspective from an investor lens. So as a VC, right, you hear about, this, sort of hallowed term of what is a Silicon Valley VC?

How do VCs think about founders? How do they end up writing checks? What makes a no, a yes, a yes, a no, right? And those are the things that I was frankly, very curious about coming from, you know, companies like Google, Rubric, and as you said, most recently AWS.

Corey: It becomes a challenging place to be in, I would imagine, just because it's, you, I don't mean to be unkind, but so much of the VC world is, seems to be built upon a, a story of people acting as if they're experts in things that very often I don't.

I don't think that necessarily is true, at least on the Twitters. You have people showing up and saying, Oh, it's the middle of a pandemic. I'm now an expert in epidemiology. And then, Oh, banks are having problems. I'm an, I'm an expert on fiscal policy. And it's okay, great. There's a lot of fake it until you make it and presumed expertise in the space.

How do you differentiate as someone who's actually done something and built things in this industry from folks who basically are very good at acting as if they had? Okay.

Nancy: Uh, well, I can't speak to the other side because I am an operator, as you mentioned, builder, right? But it does tickle my fancy to see folks who just last year, you know, were self acclaimed crypto experts who are now AI experts.

And let me just tell you, you know, I, I like to invest in things that I know, which now translates to anything broadly infrastructure, platforms, software, cloud software, and also security. So for example, in the past year, I've done deals ranging from DigSecurity, which was acquired late last year by Palo Alto Networks, Data Security, so in my old realm, being the General Manager for Data Protection, Data Security, AWS, also, you know, a fantastic team called Armada.

ai, which really fills the thesis of Edge computing and hyperconverged, you know, compute storage devices that you can put in disconnected, ruggedized environments. Because again, you know, I was also a sibling GM to the Snowball team, right? So thinking about all of those pieces that really make sense, right?

Connected to customer requirements. And of course, most recently, as we're thinking about, you know, the traditional DevOps space, right? you know, frameworks that enable data scientists or data engineers to write better code or write, you know, more full stack applications, right, with their proprietary data, right.

So we think about, you know, building your own RAG, right, which a lot of enterprises are now thinking about, you know, that will be announced very shortly as we made our latest investment there. So that, I think, wraps in a nutshell of investing in what you know, because from my perspective, founders these days have a lot of choice, especially really top notch founders who have unique insights, unique ideas.

They have a lot of choice of who do they want to take money from, right? Yes, we hear that, you know, capital is expensive and it's getting harder to raise money, but I would assert for those truly gifted, you know, founders, the world is still their oyster. Right. And so for those founders, uh, what gives a firm its edge, right.

And part of that edge from where I sit as a venture partner is that ability to have deeper understanding as to their space and be able to give, you know, insights, right. Or for example, you know, more specifically, right. Go to market advice or customer advice that really helped them, you know, scale their company.

Corey: There's something you just said that not too long ago would have struck me as Readably. Beyond the pale, just as far as, it sounds ridiculous until you start talking to a few more founders and VC folks. Uh, specifically that, well, when you're, when you're a founder and you're starting a company, there, you have to figure out who you want to take money from.

There's competition for, to give you money. And just from a, a slightly removed from the VC world perspective, that sounds insane. The, wait, I have all these people falling all over to, of themselves to give me money. It's. Yeah, that doesn't sound like a real problem that human beings have, but having spoken to folks who are, who have gone through the raise process, who are VCs themselves, that is.

There is significant competition as far as what firm to go with. And when the The economics of a deal all generally come down to something that's basically more or less the same. That's when it starts getting into more esoteric aspects of what a, what a given firm can bring to the table. And that is, to my understanding at least, nascent though it is, uh, what that means.

Is that directionally correct?

Nancy: I would say so, right? There's really kind of two sides to this coin, which one is, you know, as a operator, right, turned investor, you may have unique insights. And actually, a fellow Penn alum said this best, Andy Ratcliffe, one of the founders of Benchmark Capital. And also, he was also an operator, founder of Wealthfront.

So he's one of those truly unique individuals who can do both sides. Right. And he mentioned, look, as an operator, you're going to fish from different ponds. Right? Than folks who've been just in investing world, right? And that's a key advantage that you have because operators, well, no surprise, like other operators and you'll get intros, referrals from people who built companies.

And we all know that second time, third time founders are probably more likely to be more successful than first time founders, right? So your ability to fish in new ponds or, you know, frankly, maybe more qualified ponds could make you a better investor. Okay. And on the other side, to your point, right, especially all the founders these days, you don't need to take my word for it, right, Fortune comes out with their AI top 50, there's top AI info companies that every firm seems to have an opinion about.

Well, you betcha that those are going to be the founders that most firms will end up chasing or outbounding, because it is a common word within the VC world. And so what's going to differentiate your firm, especially if you're all very well known, all have great track records, great portfolio companies from one another, what's going to come from, you know, that relationship that one of your partners can have with the founder?

And also, what is the sort of value add, right? Unfair advantage. Can you get a customer intro for that founder that other VCs can't? Or even better yet, right? With your AWS connection, can you get them an exclusive partnership or go to market partnership that other VCs cannot?

Corey: I had a somewhat unfair, uh, gag for a while, which is, uh, the question of how do you take someone who's very, uh, flat, two dimensional, and bring them to life with a personality and a sense of humor, and the punchline, of course, is you convince them to quit their job at AWS, but there is an element of truth to it, historically, in that when people work at The Beast, there's a certain sense of not wanting to step out of line, at least, you know, when talking to people like me, which I, which I do understand.

What was it like to leave, I guess, the behemoth, for lack of a better term, and, and effectively then go transition into roles where you're dealing with some of, with basically the exact opposite while remaining in the same industry of the small one, two person founding teams, the, the, the very small scale stuff when you're used to a company that is net worth aspires to 2 trillion.

Nancy: Yeah, well, look, I mean, to quote one of my customers who saw me at reInvent, uh, not, you know, too long ago, right, his exact words were, wow, you look like you've slept, finally, and you no longer have bags under your eyes, which I take to mean, you no longer look like, Beep. So, you know, I will, I will take that as a compliment, right?

That's obviously on the surface level, visible, what, what is visible. But I think, look, you know, I mean, Amazon, to his credit, operates at massive scale. Um, all of his executives, including myself, right, have gone through a lot of press training. So yes, there were things that we couldn't comment on or speak to because sometimes they weren't always public.

Now, what's really exciting about working with early stage startups is most of these companies, like let's say Llama Index, for example. All right, all of its Python libraries are out there on GitHub, so if you want to build your own rag with your own unstructured documents or your PDF, go for it, right?

Have a blast. And that's truly what's really exciting because, you know, prior to AWS, and it's hard to imagine that I had a life prior to AWS, I actually worked at a company that I'm not sure I can call it a startup anymore for much longer, because they just filed their S1 for IPO, is called Rubrik. So I was very fortunate to join Rubrik three years after it got founded back in 2017, where all of us engineering product design could fit within one room, right?

One office, and we're on California. Cornea Avenue in Palo Alto. And it's really that like struggle that, you know, I don't know if this latest release is going to break the branch or, you know, if it's going to be a stable launch, right? And us working through the nights, working through the weekends. And that was such a fun time.

So really, you know, that's what brought me back to San Francisco, back to startups and venture capital is the ability to be very hands on and go through that zero to one, one to 100 journey with startups.

Corey: Few things are better for your career and your company than achieving more expertise in the cloud.

Security improves, compensation goes up, employee retention skyrockets. Panoptica, a cloud security platform from Cisco, has created an academy of free courses just for you. Head on over to academy. panoptica. app to get started. There's a lot of excitement in the startup space that I think you, you lose when you work at a big company, if for no other reason than, not to anyone's credit, they, their customers are some of the, are the biggest institutions in the world, not even companies, we're talking governments in many cases, and they cannot ever present to be taking their customer's business anything less than deadly seriously, which inherently constrains what they can say.

I find it. Kind of amazing, not, not just what AWS says. Great, it's easy to make fun of corporate voice, and I'm good at that for a living. But I have a tremendous respect for the AWS marketing team's ability to say anything at all. Because no matter what you say, someone is going to take issue with it. And sure, it can be me being snarky on the internet, taking issue with it.

That doesn't really matter so much as when a very large bank says, that does not indicate that you treat our data with the seriousness with which we feel you should, and now you have problems with a capital P. They're, the fact that they're able to maneuver at all is nothing short of astounding to me. I wish I had that skill.

Lord knows I do not have the ability to not get in trouble by opening my mouth.

Nancy: Well, but that's also why you're Corey Quinn, right? So there's, you know, two, two sides to that coin.

Corey: There is a scaling challenge with being Corey Quinn in a way that Amazon, like, my scaling challenges are there's only one of me.

Amazon's scaling challenges look a lot more like population limits.

Nancy: That is, that is a great way to put it. Well, look, you know, Amazon has been, and probably will always be, you know, one of the most, Startup like environments for a really large company, but you do bring up a good point, right? And this is, you know, a process that we went through during our, you know, uh, so storied OP1, uh, periods that we have to do every year, which is how do you balance, right?

The behemoth services like S3, EC2, right? RDS and so on and so forth. Of course, now Bedrock and Titan with, right? Some of the more smaller, you know, experimental services. that bring value to customers, but may not be operating yet at those scale, right? How do you balance the speed of innovation across these two very, very different categories, right?

Because if you're going to measure everything on the same scale of ARR or number of customers, then you may not end up investing in some truly experimental, you know, products. In fact, actually, I just met with a team this morning. Um, they're still stealth confidentials. I can't mention here, but they're doing some very, very interesting frontier tech work.

And they just spun out with a equity check from Andy Jassy himself because they want to go fast, right? They want to have that ability to serve multiple hyperscalers, right? To really be that component provider for some really cool tech, right? And they actually decided that the best way for them to do that, the way they can do that the fastest was to do it outside of AWS.

Corey: It makes sense. It's a, There's a lot for an easy example that I love to give that I think that people look at big companies hear this and they Sigh dreamily about it is that in the seven years that I've been in business I have never once had the following statement uttered in any meeting I've been a part of internally and that is Are there going to be antitrust concerns if we do this?

Because at this scale, it turns out that for, not for lack of trying, I have not created a near monopoly on snark in the cloud industry. I hope to one day get there, but at the moment there is some serious challenges. It's awful, like I want, I just got back from Google Cloud Next, and perfect example, Thomas Kurian, the CEO of Google Cloud, gets up on stage, and I start waiting to talk about something other than Gen AI, but it never came, and the longer the conversation went on, the more and more he started to Honestly sound a bit like a clown, and I am not a big fan of being supportive and empathetic of public speakers.

I do a lot of public speaking myself, and I didn't want him to feel like the only clown in the room. So I wound up getting dressed myself in a clown suit. So by the nose and the hair and the big polka dot bow tie, and oh yeah, it was glorious. And by the end of it, it certainly got some attention. I wound up with a, uh, a friend of mine sending me pictures from the, uh, Google, uh, from the Google Events security team, where they had like the eye in the sky, because this does take place in Las Vegas, and it was like, is, is, there's someone dressed like a clown.

Is he going to be a problem? And the answer is no. Well, well, yes, but not the kind that you need to worry about. Like I didn't have to worry about being tackled by like three dudes with very large builds and no discernible necks. No, I'm not trying to get myself stuffed in a dumpster behind the event, but it's, you just have to have fun with it.

Like my entire guiding ethos has been that this industry takes itself far too seriously and I do intend to change that, but it was, it was a different perspective and a good way of. of saying that this has gone a little thick with the Gen AI stuff without doing what some of the worst people in the world love to do, and that is disrupting the talk.

I do not have any tolerance for that at all. It's, you can tell a story and do a thing, but don't make the presenter on the stage uncomfortable while you're doing it.

Nancy: That's very fair. If anyone can strike that balance very well, Corey, it is truly you. Showing up in a clown costume and not, not disrupting the No, I showed up in

Corey: a full three piece suit when I started, and then I just added to it as well.

There are pictures on the internets, people who care enough can start looking for Corey Quinn clown. Why are there three million results on this? Well, because people have opinions on the internet, last I checked, but yeah, the pictures are in there, I'm certain.

Nancy: Well, please send one over and I would love to have it just superimposed in the post production of this episode.

So everyone watching this can also partake in how fun you are.

Corey: We'll put a link to it in the show notes. There we go. If people really want to see what I look like dressed as a clown instead of just acting like a clown as I do most days, nine to five, they can go and click that. That'll, that'll make them feel happier, I presume.

Nancy: Well, you're probably one of the highest paid clowns then.

Corey: You'd be surprised. That's the joy of the, uh, that's the joy of not being in the VC treadmill and running a bootstrap consultancy. The only way I've ever found that the charge that makes sense has been flat fee. So that means that there's not a scale play here in any meaningful sense.

And I'm okay with that. It's, I have this ancient old timey business model that our grandparents would recognize in which we make more money every month than we spend. And what a concept. Uh, that, that does seem to be. Not in vogue these days, especially in the VC world, where it's, VCs don't give, don't write these very large checks with the expectation that they're going to sit around in bank accounts earning interest.

The idea is that that money gets used to invest in things, usually, when it's the big checks, in growth. Okay, now what can you do with a 40 million marketing budget? And the answer in my case is something amazing. I don't know what yet, but something, I'm sure. It's a, like, how do we de orbit? At one point, someone asked that question years ago.

And I said, we launch a Snowball Edge into orbit. We use AWS Ground Station to talk to it. We put your company's logo on the side of it. And then we do our best to de orbit it onto Larry Ellison's house. Now, if we do this right, we You get to, you get your logo on the front of page of the New York Times.

And for some reason, no one ever wanted to take the leap. I sort of understand why.

Nancy: Well, you know, that's a claim to fame, right? But you actually bring up a very important topic and frankly, one that, you know, I will be exploring in my own podcast, which is what businesses are truly meant to be venture backed, right?

Because I feel like for actually many of the founders I speak with, Venture seems to be the only option in their minds for how to obtain funding. But with that said, you know, just use Rubrik as an example, where I used to work before AWS. In their S1, you'll actually notice that their contribution margin is negative.

And so for those of us who've studied, you know, Finance 101, a negative contribution margin really just means for every unit of net new product sold, you lose money. Right? So with that said, how does that happen after Rubrik has already raised hundreds of millions of dollars? And that goes back to your point, Corey, of using venture funding as a way, as a means, right, to growth hunking, as spending on marketing, go to market sales, which might not necessarily always mean that you always have a profitable business or that the path to profitability should be optimized.

Right? So there's a lot of different factors that go into building a truly, what counts as successful venture backed business. Um, so maybe using this as an opportunity to kind of segue into the podcast, it's going to be called Defund Me, uh, which FUD for those of us coming from the enterprise software world means basically just defund.

Uh, untruths or, uh, perhaps spun up by the other competitors marketing. And we use that, uh, going with your theme of snarkiness, basically to mean, you know, there's a lot of marketing language, right? Or marketecture also that's out there about companies and security and the infra world. And my, uh, co producer and I just wanted to maybe distill all of that and really talk about what does that truly mean?

So that's why you have me, so former GM from AWS, builder in the data protection, data security space, as well as a current sitting, you know, CISO, Chief Information Security Officer, formerly from UiPath, as well as now Spotnana, the latest reinvention of the travel vertical space, really going through and talking about how would companies or enterprises use those products, and do they truly do what they say they will do?

So you'll see a combination of me and Ashish going through, you know, our notes on spaces like LLM security, cloud security, edge security, us talking to founders of hot companies in that space. For example, DigSecurity, which got acquired. So what made them attractive to be acquired for, you know, over 400 million, which is hard to achieve for a company that's been around for 18 months, I believe it was, when they, you know, Got acquired to, for example, companies like Hidden Layer.

Corey: It's only a bad

news if they round up raising something like 800 million in funding to get acquired for 400 million. The question is, is always point of trajectory. It's, that was just a fire sale. Yeah. I get the sense that's not what happened.

Nancy: Well, as an angel investor, also one of the, uh, investments I was fortunate to work with the Felicis Ventures team on, you know, it was a nice return on multiple, especially with the timeframe, a really good AR or IR.

So, you know, that, that's, uh, of course got to work with the legendary, uh, Dan Benjamin for that company. But of course, right, we, you know, kind of go through different sectors, uh, within security and infra, talk to founders, but also coming from a product background, we'll also do some product demos with founders.

So clicking through, kicking the tires, really getting them to talk about what do they truly do? And does that actually match what's on their website?

Corey: There are challenges with, I guess, understanding the VC world, for those of us who have not been steeped in it as much as we should. One might think we have.

Where there's a, there's a sense of like early stage, okay, you've raised a bunch of money, you raised some money for seed or series A, but it's extremely likely you've not really found product market fit in a meaningful way yet. At that, you don't generally raise hundreds of millions of dollars to the way some companies very publicly and noisily have until you have those things because then it becomes an accelerator for, okay, we know that if we talk to 10 companies, three will buy.

Great, awesome. That's wildly inflated numbers, but roll with it. Awesome. So how do we talk to more companies more quickly? And the answer to that is money, to scale out the go to market efforts. And that is something that I don't think is fully well understood. Especially when we hear about stories about, Oh yeah, this AI company has decided to raise, to start a company, and they raised a 20 million seed round.

It's like, that's a fair chunk of change for just an idea on a piece of paper, but okay. I, AI and whatever is hype y in whatever, in whatever given cycle you're talking in is an easy way for people to, in many cases, invest in things that don't make sense because occasionally one of them will.

Nancy: Exactly. And that's where, you know, as an operator, right, it's definitely interesting to see a lot of these cycles.

Uh, occurred through a venture, you know, not too long ago, 12 to 18 months ago, it was crypto, right? You saw a ton of crypto companies, you know, pre revenue raising at, you know, extraordinary amounts, right? Now it's really the gen AI, you know, wave, whether it's at the application layer, the infrastructure layer, or what I call the messy middle, right?

Orchestration frameworks, whatnot, data connectors, right? But it's really, you know, and I feel like, especially in those contexts, Companies like OpenAI have become the new AWS, where every one of their new product announcements or feature announcements, right, kill a bunch of startups, right? And that's what as VCs, right, a lot of VCs will pay attention to that to kind of figure out what is the next way, right?

Or what is the next direction that they should invest and should not invest?

Corey: Yeah, it's a, it's not an easy thing to solve for. And It's interesting seeing, especially when you look at the fact that your rapid exit 18 months in is an aberration in many respects. It's a, great, I'm going to invest in a bunch of things today, and ideally there will be an exit of some sort in a 10 year timeline.

Well, Not too many people right now are excitedly talking about the same things that they were excitedly talking about in 2014. So it sounds like, oh yeah, that giant big company that just finally went public, which may have already as well have been, it wasn't, that, they were the darling of their day in the startup space, but they outgrew it, and people stopped paying attention in the same spaces.

There's a, so it looks like you, from the startup side of the world, it feels like VCs are always super hyped about the next thing, And then they stop talking about them in areas in which you hang out. So it's like, oh, it's like they're getting distracted. They're not. Their target market is no longer where you hang out.

It took me a long time to learn that lesson.

Nancy: Well, welcome to my world. And it's extremely true in the early stage investing, right? Which to your point, I think you've made a really good, you know, analogy around where you get in, right? And where it exits. Because even if it exits right about now, Let's say a billion, right?

Which a lot of people would be extremely happy about if you bought in at 800 million, well, that might not be such a good exit for you, right? So it's all about entry point. And especially for a very early stage investing, right? That entry point has to be very, very low.

Corey: A different one last topic I want to get into with you before we wind up calling it an episode is you're doing some work with the state department and that is a Always an interesting thing to hear.

There are a bunch of government departments that care deeply about what startups have to say. Historically, VCs have cared a lot more about acting like, like international policymakers and diplomats care what VCs have to say than the reality seems to be. You have something actually demonstrable to talk about.

What is it?

Nancy: Sure. So it follows my theme of Democratization, right? So one thing I love to talk about when I was at AWS is making sure that data protection, the ensuring of privacy of your data was accessible for everyone, right? And of course, you know, with the State Department, it also follows that theme of making sure that everyone around the world has an opportunity to start their own businesses, right?

To be entrepreneurs. And sure, many of those companies and those businesses may not be venture backable. However, right, what it represents, especially if you look at reports coming from the United Nations is that you're helping, especially women who might be subject to, um, you know, sexism or, for example, um, you know, domestic violence, really gain the financial freedom, right, to, for example, have a better life, right, or start over.

And so that's really what drives me and makes me passionate. And especially with the state department to countries like Qatar, Pakistan, most recently Brazil, you know, working really with these entrepreneurs around the world to start their businesses.

Corey: That's a lot better story than what you'll see in, in many VC cases, which is, well, I, I, I'm an advisor to the U.

S. government on, uh, international policy. Great. You look up, it's like, no, no, they just yell at Anthony Blinken on Twitter, whenever they're upset about something like that. That's not really the same thing as what you're describing. You're talking about working within an established framework where you are at, you have a seat at a table to talk about these things that are important.

And as opposed to doing what I'm forced to do most days, which is just throw peanuts from the cheap seats.

Nancy: I wouldn't say that. You know, you make one tweet, uh, you have one, one announcement and then you have a ton of followers. And that's really what I try to do, right? Is that these entrepreneurs are often very much overlooked because, you know, they're not going to be the shiny businesses that VCs decide to invest in.

But how do you make sure that they still get due attention, right, so that they can achieve some of the outcomes that we're talking about, which is a better life for themselves, right, and their families. And so that's the work that we do. And it's really interesting working from more of a diplomatic angle with a lot of these entrepreneurs, but also understanding that the U.

S. Uh, government actually, much like a venture capital firm, right, is also investing in many of these entrepreneurs in underserved communities. So for example, in my most recent trip to Brazil, I was able to speak with the head of ONR, which stands for Office of Naval Research, right? They're investing in frontier tech like stem cell labs or, you know, new, uh, missile tracking systems, for example.

And what they're finding, similar to, I'm sure, many venture capitalists who've decided to invest outside of the Silicon Valley is, well, guess what? Startup valuations are probably a lot lower in many other parts of the world that are not called Silicon Valley.

Corey: The line that I heard once that really stuck with me is that opportunity, that talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not.

And leveling that playing field is extremely important work.

Nancy: Thank you, Corey. And that's why, you know, I just want to give a shout out to the U. S. Department of State. It's actually an initiative within their Office of Press and Public Affairs, because they consider this to be an important instrument of public diplomacy for the U.

S. to really go out there, you know, use the resources that we have, and frankly, you know, the knowledge base that we have. And it's great to also involve, you know, the nonprofit that I started back in 2016, Advancing Women in Tech, and really use this as a platform to amplify voices of, for example, directors of engineering, VPs of engineering, who are from very diverse backgrounds in some of these efforts.

Corey: It's important work, and I look forward to seeing how that winds up evolving for you. I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. If people want to learn more, where's the best place for them to find you these days? Just opening a ticket with their account manager doesn't work anymore.

Nancy: That is true, right? Go to, go to ServiceNow, file a ticket, you know, sign it to me. Not that we use ServiceNow at Amazon, of course, but, uh, I would say LinkedIn. Um, you know, I, I'm not. Super active on Twitter, but you can always find me on LinkedIn. Drop me a message. And if you're interested in any of the things that we talked about today, for example, from the podcast, Defund Me, we'll share a link with Corey here and please upvote, please like, and subscribe.

And if you're interested in the U S department of state work that we do, I can happy to link actually a recent press release that my nonprofit Advancing Women in Tech. Co authored with the State Department showcasing the work that we're doing in Malaysia, in Taiwan, around empowering more women entrepreneurs.

Corey: Fantastic. And we'll of course put links to that in the show notes. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I appreciate it.

Nancy: Thanks so much, Corey, as always. And, uh, you know, keep up the snark and also the clown costumes.

Corey: I'll do my best. Nancy Wang, Venture Partner at Felicis Ventures. I'm Cloud Economist Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud.

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