Here at Tribe Capital, we all subscribe to a shared set of values that we believe align and focus us in a unified direction. Shared below is the internal document we distribute to every Tribe partner and employee.
A few years ago, several of us — a group of entrepreneurs, operators and data scientists — gathered at True Foods Kitchen in Palo Alto near Stanford University to discuss a challenge facing not only the venture ecosystem but the private markets as a whole:
- The ability to consistently identify and invest in potential 10-100x outcomes in the private markets requires a foundational underwriting framework built from a bottom-up view of product-market fit.
- There was a gap across the ecosystem in fulfilling this need, especially at the earlier stages of a business.
Having built and invested in companies like Facebook, Gusto, Slack, Cloudkitchens, and Trucaller, we believed our experience at Social Capital and as ex-operators made us uniquely qualified to fill that gap.
Tribe Capital’s origin story began with this mission to reinvent venture from the bottom-up — to be the best capital allocators and consistently deliver on our promise to our clients and founders. As entrepreneurs at heart, we always held that the best way to accomplish this was to build our firm from the bottom-up like a startup. We believed this approach would give us the unique ability to iterate rapidly and double down on product-market fit while staying true to the heartbeat that is venture capital. In our past organizations, transparency on progress and open collaboration with our constituents were critical drivers of progress. This is in stark contrast with the broader venture ecosystem where these practices aren’t celebrated or the norm.
Our firm was founded in 2018 by Arjun Sethi, Jonathan Hsu, and Ted Maidenberg. Tribe Capital is based in San Francisco, California. We are sector and stage agnostic, investing in seed to growth-stage technology companies. Tribe Capital has over $1.6B in assets under management. Our focus is on recognizing and amplifying early stage product-market fit with the goal of finding companies that have the potential of being N-of-1.
What most organizations do:
Most organizations of Tribe Capital’s size are organized into units or subject expertise where:
- Managers are accountable for the successes or failures of groups they can control
- General managers or managing directors are responsible for their own profit and loss
- Business Units or a book of business are separate P&Ls to clearly align accountability and control
This structure at its best can provide clear paths for “managers” whereby they can move from smaller, less complex areas of focus to progressively larger and more complex ones.
Tribe is different:
Tribe is centralized and organized by function.
- Data science, engineering, marketing, operations, finance, legal and compliance etc. are represented at the leadership level.
- Managers have less control over what they’re accountable for.
- Functional leaders collaborate cross-functionally to launch, invest and support products and services
People at Tribe are expected to:
- Be experts on functional skills across disciplines and products
- Engage in and discuss details many levels down
- Develop empathy and responsive communication around common goals
The following are meant to inspire and invite reflections. The language below are prompts to check your own thinking – or someone else’s and to have conversations with common foundations. The statements below may not always be equal, but help with the attributions that are critical to a role, a project or to help you to focus, and to provide one direction. Our hope is that this can help you achieve better results.
Seeing what may be evident to us but not necessarily recognized by others. And having the confidence to move forward in spite of skepticism.
- Thinking Clearly
- Sensing the time, and building today with the notion for tomorrow
- Invention with integration
Having the ability to create something that does not exist, but should. This comes from deep functional expertise and ingenuity.
- Love of details
- Ask why, natural curiosity
The commitment to uphold what makes Tribe, Tribe. This means behaving in a consistent manner with the ideals and values of the organization.
- Resisting the gravitational pull to the mean
- Integrity by driving quality, honesty, and accountability
- Obsession to exceed expectations to whom we serve, founders and investors
Not having control is scary and can be challenging, especially when you don’t oversee all the pieces. Accountability and not to be confused with ownership happens when you trust others and collaborate.
- Zero in on what’s critical
- Listen, challenge, and commit
At Tribe, connecting with others is vital to making them feel recognized, valued and engaged. It’s not charisma but humility, and the willingness to go beyond your comfort zone.
- Do what you say you’ll do
- Seek expertise and experience
- Know your Tribe