Updated: Nov 17, 2020
As a graduate with highest honors from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, one would expect someone like Priya Saiprasad to accomplish great things in her professional life. And, as an inductee into Forbes’ 2019 30 under 30 venture capital list, it’s clear that she has done just that.
Beginning her career as an Investment Banking Analyst at UBS Financial Services, Priya soon moved into the world of emerging technologies, first as a Senior Associate at a VC firm working with SaaS companies, then as Corporate Development Deal Lead for the now well-known innovative payment processing technology, Square, co-founded by Twitter creator, Jack Dorsey. During her time with Square, Priya led several significant acquisitions in the mobile payments, AI and SMB software industries, and the groundbreaking startup also went public on the New York Stock Exchange.
Following her experience with Square, Priya joined the Microsoft team’s new Venture Fund, M12, as a Principal. There, she advised many impressive startups, focusing on AI and machine-learning technologies.
And Priya didn’t stop there. She quickly directed her focus to the underserved market of female founders by helping to launch M12’s Female Founders Competition, with the aim of helping women entrepreneurs gain equal access to venture funding.
The year before the first Female Founders Competition, just 2.2% of all venture capital funding was distributed to women, and only 17% of all startups had at least one female founder. Working towards greater diversity in business is not just the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, we also know that greater diversity leads to higher profitability for businesses.
We seem to be at a critical point in human history when we are faced with both immense challenges, and massive opportunities for greater progress, especially in technology sectors where startup technologies and initiatives have the potential to take us leaps and bounds forward. By working towards greater diversity in the startup space, with her focus on AI and machine learning, Priya Saiprasad is not just helping to level the playing field for women. She is also helping to strengthen the future for all of us by working to put innovation, opportunity and progress at the forefront of venture capital.
Further, M12 itself is aimed at harboring greater diversity in the VC world in general, not just from a gender perspective. When the firm was first founded, they set out to create a team more representative of the world, reaching out to networks of various gender, ethnicity, educational, expertise and other backgrounds. The Female Founders Competition is one effort to extend a diverse team to a diverse makeup of entrepreneurs in their investment portfolio as well. Another such effort is the Global Startup Competition to uncover AI technologies, startups and initiatives around the globe with the potential to change the world. Venture capital can be a great opportunity to bring emerging technologies forward. But, when that capital is only available to select sectors of the global population, huge potential is missed. It is organizations like M12, driven forward by ambitious people like Priya Saiprasad, that will open up that potential.
Today, Priya is a Venture Capitalist at Mayfield - an investment firm that, alongside Pivotal Ventures, is partnered with M12 to support the Female Founders Competition - and is either a board member or board observer of several innovative startups in various countries around the world.
We celebrate Priya Saiprasad for her ambition and dedication to strengthening the world’s technological future using logic and great business sense. The writing is on the wall: diversity in business is good for people and good for bottom lines. To work in that direction is, quite simply, the logical option.
Do you know of a strong woman who uses her incredible propensity for logic to make the world a better place? Challenge her today to bring that strength forward!