(that’s Mark in the middle)
A little over a year ago, I found myself sitting in-front of an audience, on a stage, chatting with Mark. We were talking about how technology might change cities and I was in for a surprise. I figured we’d have a fresh perspective on cities and tech. But Mark had already set up a fund within Citi to fund high growth tech firms that can make cities better. Long before we’d decided that cities might be interesting, Mark had dedicated his career, to making cities better.
I had a lot of questions. Why was Mark doing this? How did he get Citi to buy into the plan? Could he help any of our founders? Could he help Urban.Us better understand how to work with city governments or other large city stakeholders? Over a series of lunches, dinners and phone calls, Mark patiently answered questions and had plenty of his own. It didn’t take long to figure out that we wanted to find some way to work together. But how?
We encourage our founders to find great people who seem like impossible prospects for their teams. “Just find a way to start working together” we say. We’re following our own advice. We’re still a very small fund, but we have grand plans. So Mark’s joining us as a Venture Partner and a Limited Partner. This means we can’t have all of his time, but he’s going to help us in a number of key areas.
First, Mark is going to help us evaluate and work with specific portfolio companies, particularly those who interact with large city stakeholders like financial institutions, city government or real estate firms. And he’s going to help us to continue to build out the Urban Us Public Benefit Corporation that currently manages the Urban.Us network, partnerships, events, research and original content. We’ll have more on that in the coming weeks and months.