Tony Florence is a General Partner of New Enterprise Associates. In addition to co-leading NEA’s Venture Growth Equity investment practice, he leads the investments in the internet and software sectors. He serves as a director of numerous successful businesses, including Care.com, Cvent and Moda Operandi. While he may fly under the radar in comparison to certain other top investors, he’s considered one of the leading and most influential figures in the industry. Find out more about his life and work as we take a look at ten things you didn’t know about Tony Florence.
1. He studied at Dartmouth
Florence received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Dartmouth College. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he transferred to the college’s graduate program to earn his Master of Business Administration.
2. He spent over a decade with Morgan Stanley
Before he joined New Enterprise Associates, Florence spent over a decade at the multinational investment bank and financial services company, Morgan Stanley. His final position at the company before his move to NEA was as Managing Director. Prior to that, he served in numerous senior capacities with the firm, including as Head of Technology Banking in New York. The majority of his positions had a focus on the Technology sector. He also served as a member of the North American Management Committee for investment banking.
3. He’s helped lead NEA’s investing activities in China and Europe
Since joining NEA as a General Partner, Florence has served as head of NEA’s technology investing practice, towards which NEA puts the majority of its funds. As nea.com notes, his primary focus is investments in the software and internet sectors with an emphasis on SaaS and marketplace eCommerce companies. He’s also actively involved in NEA’s investing activities in China and Europe.
4. He’s a partner in Goop
Goop may be controversial, but despite criticism from the medical community, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand has become a massive success. After tapping into the demand for alternative health care, Goop, as Bloomberg writes, has become the epicenter of the multi-trillion dollar wellness industry. Since it began its fundraising efforts, it has secured more than $82 million from venture capital firms and investors. Major names like Ketel One Botanical, Lululemon, Tumi, Native Shoes have bent over backward to become official sponsors, with the result that the brand is now valued at around $250 million. One person who’s in no way surprised at Goop’s success is Florence, who serves as a general partner and the brand’s first institutional investor. “Gwyneth was super sophisticated in how she thought about the market opportunity,” he says. “She saw the trends around self-care early.”
5. He’s been named to Forbes’ Midas List of Top Investors
To be named to Forbes’ Midas List of Top Investors once is an achievement. To make the list four years in a row is extraordinary. Florence has done exactly that. He first featured on the list in 2017, and has continued to make yearly appearances ever since. The latest list places him at number 55 in a ranking of the world’s top investors.
6. He has an impressive portfolio
As you’d expect from one of the country’s top investors, Florence has a very impressive investment portfolio. The portfolio reads like a who’s who guide to the top and most promising brands around. Included in their mix is the machine learning automation platform DataRobot, the designer fashion e-commerce startup Moda Operandi, and the gift card marketplace Raise.
7. He led the investment in Jet.com
If Florence’s current investment portfolio wasn’t enough to impress you, some of his past investment activity certainly will. In addition to leading the investment in online shopping site Jet.com (which was acquired by Walmart in 2016), Florence has also led investments in Care.com, Cvent, Appian Quidsi/Diapers.com (which was later acquired by Amazon), Edmodo, EverFi, Casper, Snap, Gilt, Duolingo, Letgo, and Wallapop.
8. He was an early backer of Maisonette
This February, children’s boutique Maisonette closed $30 million in Series B Funding. Florence was an early investor in the brand, which has enjoyed 3x growth in the past year alone. During an interview published by prnewswire.com, Florence explained why he’s backed the company since the very beginning. “We were convinced early on and have invested in every round to date because the Maisonette founders have stayed true to their vision and executed at scale, ahead of schedule,” he said. “Investment now in a proprietary technology platform powered by data will benefit the business with deeper personalization and even more relevant engagement between brands and customers.”
9. He thinks all good business leaders share common values
Florence may have invested in a very diverse range of companies over the years, but he believes they all share one thing in common: committed leadership. Speaking to Tech Crunch, Florence explained how he believes all successful leaders share certain commonalities. “These are people who are very customer-centric, who focus on good, fundamental unit economy, and who are obsessed with their people, their teams,” he said. “There is a sense of vision, mission and culture. When you wake up and decide to do something, the majority of people you talk to just want to tell you the reasons why it can’t work, so it also takes a certain [wherewithal] to have such conviction around what you’re doing that you’re kind of all in on it, and you’re going to break through no matter what.”
10. He doesn’t think Amazon is unbeatable
As Amazon’s stranglehold seems to grow ever tighter, increasing numbers of small businesses have accused the global giant of stifling competition and monopolizing the market. Although Florence concedes that Amazon is tough competition, he still thinks there’s room for smaller companies to find their place. Speaking via IATA News, he explains, “If you’re competing with them [in the] cloud market or a commerce market, they’re a very formidable competitor, and you got to take them very, very seriously. They’re at a scale that’s just incredibly impressive. But I do think you’re seeing a lot of innovation around the edges and companies finding areas that Amazon maybe can’t focus on or isn’t focusing on.”