Humbition Is a VC for Founder-Led Companies

October 10, 2018

By Michael Teich

Travis Kalanick should never have stepped down from Uber.

That's the feeling of Cyrus Massoumi, the co-founder of investment fund Humbition and the founder of Zocdoc, who feels venture capitalists should support the founders of companies they're backing, even if that leader has become a controversial figure.

"Everyone has strengths and development needs. We won’t ask founders to step down," Massoumi said Wednesday in an interview on Cheddar.

"In the case of Uber, we would not have been one of the firms that was pushing Travis to leave."

Kalanick, who founded Uber in 2009, resigned as CEO last summer after serious pressure from investors who were eager for the company to revamp its brand image. The ridesharing firm had been plagued by months of sexual harassment scandals, regulatory scuffles, and legal issues.

Not all leaders have such a dramatic tenure, but Humbition makes a point investing in founder-led companies, and the early-stage investment group is launching a $30 million fund focused on innovative entrepreneurs in the New York City area.

Its portfolio currently includes furniture company Burrow and three other investments that have yet to be announced.

Massoumi said companies reach their full potential when the founders stay in control.

"If you look at all the outcomes and all the greatest innovations ー the glory years of Microsoft ($MSFT), the glory of Apple ($AAPL), the glory years of Google ($GOOGL) have been when the founders are there, because no one is going to care as much as the parent."

Massoumi thinks New York City is the prime location for finding entrepreneurs who are trying to make a positive impact on the world.

That's what he said is the biggest difference between the Big Apple and Silicon Valley.

"The kinds of companies that tend to break out in New York tend to be much stronger from a point of purpose-driven dimension. If you think about the companies that have done quite well here, they're doing interesting things in healthcare, education," Massoumi said.

Humbition's key areas of investment include marketplaces and consumer and health tech. The fund's advisers include the New York-based founders of ClassPass (Payal Kadakia), Warby Parker (Neil Blumenthal), and Compass (Robert Reffkin).

For full interview click here.