Welcome to our Vertex US Venture Fellows
A big part of our job as venture investors is to know smart, relevant people who have built and scaled companies, and at the right moment, connect our portfolio executives. The relationships serve as important introductions to potential customers, partners, or advisors. And over the years, we’ve tapped some of the same leaders to help our portfolio grow. Recently, we’ve decided to formalize a handful of our relationships to serve our entire portfolio.
We’re excited to introduce Julie Hereenden, Teresa Dietrich, Adam Zimman, Ed Park, and Germaine Yokoyama-Heiliger as our first cohort of Vertex Fellows. They have deep operational knowledge and leadership chops from companies of all sizes and will mentor our portfolio from pre-seed to IPO. In short, they’re a critical part of our extended investment team.
They’re no strangers to us. We’ve worked in the trenches with them for years, seeing firsthand how their hands-on expertise and strategic guidance contribute to building and scaling companies. Ed Park, for example, worked with partner Jonathan Heiliger for 4 years at Meta, when it was known as Facebook, leading Financial Planning & Analysis well before and following its IPO, before joining the startup world. Germaine and Adam have been active with our portfolio for years. Germaine has had a formal advisory role directly with companies like Tulip and VGS; now she’ll be a great resource for all of our founders as they navigate people-related functions. Adam worked for years at portfolio company LaunchDarkly as the VP of Product and now advises selected, high-growth companies on their product marketing journeys.
First, we’ll introduce Julie and Teresa. We’ll later post part 2 with profiles of Adam, Germaine, and Ed.
Julie Herendeen, recently shared counsel on building a marketing function from scratch. She’s a CMO who has scaled enduring technology companies such as PagerDuty, which she took through its IPO and grew the business to over $250 million in annual recurring revenue. She’s currently a board member at Homebase and Hootsuite, where she’s guiding those companies as they grow to new heights.
Julie recognizes that it can be difficult to hire the right marketer for an early-stage startup because, she says, “marketers often grow up in siloed environments.” She’s right. We often hear from founders that marketing leaders are some of the most difficult roles to fill: Not because there aren’t enough candidates, but because the right person may not have previously taken on the types of broad roles the startup is looking for. While candidates have valuable experience with functions like brand and positioning, they may not have much experience with demand generation and will need to learn different functions.
So what do you do? Julie says oftentimes those with product marketing backgrounds are often the most versatile and flexible. And while they still need to learn different roles, they can succeed with the positioning and messaging work while immersing themselves in demand generation.
If you’re familiar with Vertex and our philosophy, you know that we like to roll up our sleeves and work alongside our portfolio. Everyone spends considerable time on hiring. We get involved early and help our founders with their first hires because those decisions are consequential for years to come. Enter Teresa Dietrich, who is focused on technical leadership.
Teresa is currently Chief Product and Technology Officer for Stack Overflow, one of the largest programming communities in the world. Best known for its Q&A forums, programmers and technologists come together here to learn and share technical knowledge. Previously, Teresa learned how to build communities and web-scale applications working at businesses such as McKinsey, WebMD, and Namely.****
Hiring today is difficult and can sometimes feel impossible. She offers advice on how to hire engineers who are good team players from the get-go. Her biggest takeaways: don’t hire only technical chops, but consider core skills like collaboration and problem-solving, just as important. Much of the technical skills needed can be learned in the role.
We’re thrilled to have these leaders onboard as we deepen our bench of operators and leaders who will join us to help our founders along their journeys. Together, we’ve never been more confident in our team and our portfolio as we invest and build in the future of enterprise technology.
Teresa Dietrich | Engineering Leadership
Teresa is a dynamic technology leader with a passion for building and scaling products and technical organizations. With over 20 years of experience in the Internet industry, her focus has been on technical innovation, people development, and web-scale architecture. Teresa led increasing larger technology teams for WebMD as the company grew. Subsequently, she was CTO at Namely, growing the organization to nearly 150 people, followed by joining McKinsey as the Global Head of Product and Engineering where she built out their product development teams and created a product accelerator to deepen and extend their client impact. She has a BS, Information Decision Systems and Engineering from CMU, then shortly after an MS in ECE from George Mason University. Teresa is currently Chief Product and Technology Officer for Stack Overflow.
Julie Herendeen | Marketing
Julie is a CMO and board director who has helped build enduring technology brands including PagerDuty, Dropbox, Uber, and Yahoo! Across roles, she brings category-defining brand expertise, growth marketing, and deep product experience to help companies scale.
Most recently, Julie was the CMO at PagerDuty, taking the company through its IPO and growing the business to over $250M in ARR. Prior to PagerDuty Julie led global marketing and the self-service business at Dropbox. Julie was the founding marketing leader at Lookout and Shutterfly and she started her career as a product leader at Apple, Netscape, and Yahoo! Julie is on the board of directors at Hootsuite and Homebase and has an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Ed Park | Finance
Ed Park is a finance leader who has worked at some of Silicon Valley’s top tech companies. His career began in investment banking at BofA and Lehman before stepping into a corporate role at Yahoo! From there, he went on to Facebook leading the FP&A and corporate finance organizations as revenue grew 10x to $3B+. After 6 years, Ed joined Asana as an early finance leader and oversaw the company's growth. He was most recently the CFO at Enjoy. He holds a BS in Economics from Princeton.
Germaine Yokoyama-Heiliger | People
Germaine is a versatile People Experience and Operations Executive with decades of operating experience in consumer, SaaS, and entertainment. Germaine started her HR career during Netscape’s hypergrowth, later joining Opsware at a similar stage. She moved onto DreamWorks Animation as Head of HR, navigating the path to IPO before becoming a Production Executive on Shrek 2 & Shrek the Third. This led her to become Proofpoint’s 1st HR leader through 5X growth & IPO. Germaine’s direct style later earned her CPO roles at Thumbtack and Earnin. Today, she advises startups and coaches CEOs on leadership and organizational design. She holds a BS in Sociology from Santa Clara University.
Adam Zimman | Product Marketing
Adam has a deep passion for leadership and technology with experience ranging from UX to infrastructure, all grounded with a background in physics. Adam spent a decade at VMware, starting out as a Systems Engineer before promotions led him to Sr. Director, R&D. This led him to become Head of Technology Partnerships at GitHub, running their overall engagement with Partners including Marketing, Product Management, and Business Strategy. Along the way he advised and consulted with a multitude of companies including Kong, LightStep, Sourcegraph, and Turbine Labs. In 2017 he joined LaunchDarkly, concentrating on product marketing and platform. In tandem, he serves as a Board Advisor for the Creative Arts Charter School and advises the non-profit organization, /dev/color.