Katie Riester

Katie Riester

Managing Director & GP, Fund of Funds Investing

Including more communities in venture stimulates growth on all sides of the table.

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Katie is a Managing Director and GP of Fund of Funds Investing at Felicis. Katie leads Investor Relations for the firm and has been part of the LP community since 2002. She was one of Felicis' first investors through her role at SVB Capital, and brings more than 20 years of venture fund investment experience to her role. She started her career at Cambridge Associates, helping a wide range of institutional clients build and evaluate their private equity programs. Katie earned her BA in Economics at Colby College and her MBA at Wharton. She is a member of several organizations supporting women in private equity and is on the Executive Committee and Board of Safe & Sound, an organization working to prevent child abuse and reduce its devastating impact.  Katie has been featured in the WSJ and Nasdaq.

Including more communities in venture stimulates growth on all sides of the table.

How did your upbringing affect who you are today?

I grew up in a family of six, and as an adult, I’ve volunteered nearly 1,000 hours on a crisis phone line. I know how important it is for people to be valued and heard as well as how the pie can get bigger for everyone as more people come together to work on a solution.  When I started my career at Cambridge Associates, I got to help many non-profits and worthy organizations access investment opportunities they would have never had before. That felt important, so I’ve pulled that thread through SVB and Felicis as much as possible. Our great LPs have contributed to some of Felicis’ portfolio company successes.

What’s it like going from being a limited partner (LP) to being in VC?

As an LP, one is always curious about the conversations and priorities within a GP/Firm.  I was amazed at how deeply Felicis cared about each decision. This team is so considerate about bringing the right perspectives into the room. When I joined, I wanted to elevate Felicis’ already very successful platform by building an incredibly diverse LP base that could not only bring in many different perspectives but also contribute to making the pie bigger for everyone. We also aim for transparency. At Felicis, we keep things simple so everyone can focus on the most significant value-adding parts of their job. 

Katie presenting at the Felicis Annual Meeting in 2022.

Why is it important for founders to know about the LPs of their investors?

Founders can get much satisfaction from knowing who a firm’s LPs are. This way, founders understand who else benefits when their companies successfully exit. It can create an incredible butterfly effect. You can identify more positives that can come from your company’s success beyond the wealth created for you and your team. LPs can also be wonderful partners to founders too. I’ve seen LPs introduce founders to acquirers and become customers of portfolio companies. But by far, the biggest reason for a founder is to understand their LPs and how they affect the world. At Felicis, our LPs have a global impact (e.g., protecting millions of acres of land and increasing childhood cancer survival rates), but we have also brought on more locally-focused LPs that help children remain in school and reduce recidivism in prisons.

What’s a lesson you want to impart to your kids?

I want them to find work they enjoy and people they appreciate working with, and I encourage them to discover how to make their work bigger and more meaningful. I also try to build up their resiliency and make sure they know that while growth doesn’t always feel good in the moment, it is worth it. 

What’s a cause you care deeply about?

When I moved to San Francisco in 2005, I knew no one, and I started volunteering at Safe & Sound to feel more connected to the community. The goal of the organization is to strengthen families and prevent child abuse. While I thought I would initially be working with kids, I ended up on the parent and caregiver crisis line for years. I had a three-hour weekly shift where I would take inbound calls and support people living with the daily challenges of life, particularly in the context of caring for young children. I firmly believe that if you can help young people and their families get the support they need when they need it, it will unlock so many paths and break multi-generational cycles. It’s an organization that brings together many stakeholders—child protective services, teachers, parents, caregivers, the police, and the government—who are all aligned to achieve the same mission. Seeing how this community connects and works together has been deeply inspiring.

Dasha Maggio and Katie at a Felicis event.