After a 14-year career at Redpoint Ventures, where he climbed the ranks to become one of the firm’s stewards, Tomasz Tunguz is planning to take a step back. He has also considered a departure from the storied Silicon Valley firm, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Reached for comment, Redpoint denied that Tunguz is leaving the firm in the near term, but said he will be relinquishing his duties as a managing director (equivalent to the “general partner” title used at other VC firms), which include raising money from limited partners to fund the firm’s investment vehicles. Tunguz will become a partner, a label more often used for junior investors. In a text to Forbes, Tunguz affirmed what Redpoint said: “I’m continuing to invest with the team but reducing some management responsibility.”
The change for Tunguz, a stalwart of Redpoint’s early-stage practice who also runs a popular technology blog, comes at a time when the firm is trying to execute a generational transition to a new set of leaders. Redpoint is also in the midst of raising $650 million for its ninth fund, according to an SEC filing from April that was first reported in Venture Capital Journal. Financial disclosures for its previous two early-stage funds list Tunguz as a managing partner. But his name is absent in the latest filing, with the spot being replaced by Erica Brescia, who joined the firm in January.
Tunguz had at one point considered launching his own fund, according to two sources. One of the people added that he was contemplating a departure from Redpoint as far back as last year, when the hot capital markets were giving rise to a glut of new venture capital funds. In May, Tunguz briefly changed the title on his personal blog site from “Venture Capitalist at Redpoint” to simply “Venture Capitalist,” before reverting it a few weeks later, as documented by the Wayback Machine.
It is unclear if the change in market conditions influenced Tunguz’s decision. He declined to comment on whether he considered leaving the firm and changed his mind. One source speculated that the longtime VC could be using the current period of uncertainty to recuperate. Despite the market downturn, some established investors at well-known firms are still starting their own shops, such as Sarah Guo, who left Greylock earlier this month.
A Dartmouth College graduate, Tunguz spent three years as a product manager at Google before moving to Redpoint during the 2008 recession. He was promoted to partner in 2013, the same year he secured his most notable VC deal, a Series A lead investment into data analytics company Looker at a $80 million valuation; the company exited in a $2.6 billion sale to Google in 2019. He took on the managing director role with the firm’s seventh early-stage fund in 2018. Other notable deals Tunguz has backed include customer support software maker Kustomer (acquired by Meta for $1 billion), and data startups Dremio (last valued at $2 billion) and Monte Carlo ($1.6 billion). Tunguz has also accumulated large social media followings for his blog, where he writes multiple data-driven columns per week on cloud software and venture capital.
Redpoint, meanwhile, is still working out its second generational transition, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The first came about a decade ago, after Satish Dharmaraj (Midas List No. 16), Elliot Geidt (No. 57) and Tunguz joined and began taking larger roles at the firm. Along with Scott Raney (No. 39), who joined the firm in 2000 shortly after it was founded, Redpoint bolstered its reputation for spotting enterprise software winners with investments into companies such as Twilio, Snowflake and HashiCorp.
This time around, the firm appears to be experimenting with new strategies to attract founders, such as being one of the first VC firms to use social networking app TikTok. Still, its most recent hires to the managing director position, Brescia and Jason Warner—both former GitHub executives—indicate it is doubling down on its bread and butter. How the new generation fares as stewards in Tunguz’s place remains to be seen.
Additional reporting by Alex Konrad.