VC Corner: Anna Patterson, Gradient Ventures


Anna Patterson is the Founder and Managing Partner of Google’s new AI fund, Gradient Ventures. She was previously Google’s VP of Engineering in AI -- integrating AI into products across Google. Just after Anna received her PhD, she was a Research Scientist at Stanford. Here she worked with one of the founders of AI -- John McCarthy -- and his wife Carolyn Talcott. Patterson also serves on the Board of Directors at Square Inc.

Impressed yet?

Early in her career at Google, Patterson helped launch and scale Android to over a billion phones. She launched Google Play, and led the search, infrastructure, recommendations horizontals. Anna was the principal architect and inventor of TeraGoogle, Google’s search serving system. This premium system increases the index size over 10X at the time of launch. Anna also helped lead search ranking efforts through Google’s IPO to determine the top ten search results.

A serial entrepreneur, Anna co-founded Cuil, a clustering-based search engine. She wrote, the first keyword-based search engine and the largest index of the Internet Archive. Prior to that, Anna co-founded and co-authored a search engine at Xift.

Anna resides in the Bay Area, where she wrangles her four kids, two horses and her Irish husband.

We are so thankful Anna Patterson dedicated a few of her precious minutes to Startup Grind. Please enjoy this week’s entry for our VC Corner, with Anna Patterson.


What is your / your fund's mission?

Our mission is to find and invest in companies that are pushing an industry forward with AI.

When did you start your current fund?

We launched our current fund, Gradient Ventures in July 2017.

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

Currently I am most excited about Generative AI -- which is moving artificial intelligence beyond understanding our world into creative assistance.

Who is one of your founders you think we should watch?

Choosing a favorite founder or a founder to watch if like choosing a favorite child; I can’t.

What are 3 top qualities of every great leader?

I would say that the top three qualities of every great leader would be:

1. Creating and fostering a vision.

2. Knowing what they don’t know.

3. Boundless enthusiasm.

What was your very first investment? and when?

Our very first investment, or Series A lead, was Algorithmia. We closed on the series in June 2017.

What is one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?

One question I always ask myself before investing in a company is: "Do I find myself constantly thinking about their vision and mission?"

What is one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?

Every founder should ask themselves: "Do they want to work with this investor for the next 10 years?" While founders often focus on impressing investors, they should also ensure potential investors are a good fit for their company.

What do you think should be in a CEO's top 3 company priorities?

A CEO's top three company priorities should be:

1. Product Execution. 

2. Market Impact.

3. Recruiting.

Favorite business book or podcast?

My favorite business book is: Real Time by Regis McKenna.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

My favorite thing to do when I'm not working is whatever my kids want me to do!

Who is one leader you admire?

One leader I admire is: Carl Bass [former CEO, Autodesk].

What is one piece of advice you’d give every founder?

One piece of advice I would give to every founder is --Sleep. Every decision is better with sleep.