Neil has a unique gift to deliver profound and actionable advice in a subtle and empathetic way. He addresses the elephant in the room and is invaluable in helping us stay focused on the big picture.David Baszucki,
CEO and Co-founder of Roblox
What was the vision behind the founding of Index Ventures in 1996?
Neil — At Stanford, I used to help one of my buddies out with his part-time job summarizing business plans for a VC firm, and I realized that working with founders was what I wanted to do. Our thesis for Index was that great founders would eventually emerge everywhere, that we’d understand the challenges they’d face, and that we’d be uniquely equipped to help them in both Europe and the U.S. Starting in Europe was a contrarian move, but we knew it was crucial to the development of our portfolio to stay connected with Silicon Valley, and we ultimately set up a base in San Francisco.
Why do you find working with founders to be so rewarding?
Neil — People with a strong sense of purpose resonate with me, and if I’m excited about their mission, I’m eager to help them any way I can. I’m particularly interested in the way founders place themselves in the mindset of future customers, and how that informs critical choices in terms of product, business model and organizational structure. You can have conversations about solving problems with anyone, but entrepreneurs actually intend to do something about it. That’s what makes them special.
What legacy would you like to see Index define for itself?
Neil — I’d love to see Index continue to serve an LP base of non-profit foundations and endowments focused on education, healthcare, research, and other mission-based organizations. The returns they’ll derive from investing in our funds will bolster their endowments and fuel their missions even further in the service of humanity. Beyond that, I believe the principles that define Index are built to last, but that the firm will also adapt and remodel itself so that it is best suited to partner with the most capable and audacious entrepreneurs of the future.
Neil co-founded Index Ventures in Geneva in 1996. His vision was to support the most ambitious entrepreneurs, bringing Silicon Valley-style investing to Europe at a time when venture capital was a new term outside the U.S. 20 years on, staying true to its European roots, Index has become one of the world's leading VC firms, with principal offices in London and San Francisco. The firm has raised $7.25 billion, with more than 160 companies in its portfolio. Today, Neil works with entrepreneurs on both sides of the Atlantic, and has led Index investments in Betfair, Climate, Supercell, and Trello.
Born in Montreal, Neil studied at Stanford and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. He spent four years with Montgomery Securities in San Francisco, and joined Index Securities in 1990 — the predecessor of Index Ventures. Neil also serves on the board of Human Rights Watch, a non-profit, non-governmental organization.