Ann L. Winblad is one of the most well-known female partners, co-founders, authors, consultants and managing directors in the traditionally male dominated venture capital industry. The highly successfully, old-time Silicon Valley investor co-founded venture capital firm HWVP with John Hummer in 1989.
Winblad grew up in Minnesota in a small town, the daughter of a basketball couch and the oldest of six siblings. After receiving a BA in mathematics and business from the College of St. Catherine and an MA in education and international economics from the University of St. Thomas, she began her career as a systems programmer at the Federal Reserve Bank. In 1976, Ann set up her first software company called Open Systems in Minneapolis, which was sold six years later for $15 million. She then moved to San Francisco to be surrounded by people with ambition as great as her own. In Silicon Valley she launched her investing career with the founding of HWVP.
Hummer Winblad Venture Partners focuses on enterprise software deals, particularly web scale infrastructure, cloud and hybrid cloud. The firm was an early investor in Napster, the first popular file trading service, as well as media company theknot.com. Among Ann’s most notable investments include MuleSoft, Sonatype, Ace Metrix and OptiMine.
The VC firm initially focused on US-based companies, and has since diversified geographically and invested in more startups led or founded by women. Winblad explains that while 37% of crowd-funded companies worldwide are headed or founded by women, the figure is less than 8% in America. For companies which manage to secure over $100,000 in funding, less than 10% go on to Series A funding.
After working with hundreds of tech executives, HWVP’s founding partner believes mental, physical stamina, and commitment are some of the most important attributes of a successful CEO. “A question that successful entrepreneurs often ask themselves is, ‘Why am I doing this?’” she says, implying the correct answer is, “I think in some ways, I can change the world.”