"I electrocuted myself on the first day of training."
Larry’s technology career began at the young age of 13 when he became Apple Computer’s youngest certified technician.
"My parents ran an Apple Computer retailer in San Diego and sent my brother and me to Apple technical training up in Cupertino. It was going fine for a few hours right up until I electrocuted myself discharging a CRT monitor that was still turned on and plugged in. No one told me I had to turn off the monitor before working on it. I made it through in the end."
With most of Larry’s brain cells still intact, he chose the path of early retirement from the computer repair business and moved from sunny San Diego to Boston to attend Harvard. Larry’s collegiate career included many illustrious accomplishments including: sleeping through a final exam freshman year, taking an internship at venture-backed start-up that promptly went bankrupt after he joined (no correlation, he swears), calling a play in the Harvard/Yale football game (a long bomb – to himself), and losing 372 consecutive games of “You Don’t Know Jack” against his roommates.
Fortunately, Larry found his calling in other things at school – most notably Harvard Student Agencies (HSA). During his sophomore year, Larry became the manager of the laundry and linen division of Harvard Student Agencies (HSA), a $4.0M student-run company serving the greater Harvard community. As Larry says, “I ran a Chinese laundromat.” From the unglamorous to the glamorous, Larry worked his way up and became the President and Chairman of the HSA during his last year in school. It was through the board of HSA and interactions with past presidents that Larry first learned about the venture capital business.
Upon graduation, Larry joined a strategic consulting firm, Corporate Decisions, Inc. (CDI) – a spin-out of Bain & Co. Though spreadsheets and powerpoints were interesting, on the side, Larry practiced his love of stock picking and proved he had the stomach and fortitude for trading penny technology stocks. Love didn’t translate to success, necessarily, as Larry’s big stock pick back then was in a broadband wireless company that was 10 years too early.
“In the risk-reward equation, I knew how to take risk. The reward part was something that needed some work.”
Nonetheless, Larry’s risk taking caught the attention of Bessemer Venture Partners whom he chose to join in 1998, entering the world of venture capital at the time when the bubble was going into full form. His first investment was in a company called SciQuest – a B2B marketplace serving the pharmaceutical industry. Just 18 months after Bessemer’s initial investment, SciQuest went public with a market cap north of $2 billion.
“We had a billion dollar IPO every other week. I thought making money was easy. I couldn’t have been more wrong.”
In February 2000, Larry moved to Battery Ventures where he spent the next five years. Investing during a down cycle was the antithesis of his previous experience at Bessemer, but one that afforded Larry many valuable lessons.
“In the years after the bubble burst, it was a long tough slog just to try and return capital on some of our investments. I learned so much during that time. It simplified a lot for me – look for companies with great people, fantastic products with obvious value, real barriers to entry, and business models that can ultimately drive meaningful cash flow. Perhaps more importantly, I also learned that I love investing and working with entrepreneurs. It was a tough time, but I loved going to work every day.”
Larry joined Fidelity Ventures in 2005, as a principal and was later promoted to partner. During his tenure, he led a number of the firm's investments that target mass market businesses or consumers.
In 2010, Larry helped to found Volition Capital. "We are pro-founder and love working with passionate people who are trying to change an industry. We pull out all the stops for portfolio companies day-in and day-out. That is how I'm wired and how the firm is wired."