Click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 Building a billion-dollar investment firm by putting trust and relationships first Ashton Newhall is the co-founder and co-managing partner of Greenspring Associates. Founded in 2000, Greenspring is a leading global investment firm that today manages over $3.5 billion in capital commitments worldwide. Greenspring acts primarily as a fund of funds, backing a host of dynamic venture capital firms, including Greycroft Partners, Revolution, and Volition Capital. Additionally, Greenspring has been involved with private companies such as GrubHub, FanDuel, and Alibaba Group. Before starting Greenspring, Ashton Newhall was an associate at T. Rowe Price, where he held the distinction of being one of youngest marketers of the firm’s investment management services. What is the greatest challenge facing venture capitalists today? ASHTON NEWHALL: The real heroes within this country are the entrepreneurs and the financiers of the innovation economy. I’d love to see recognition in tax policy at a macro level and at a state level to encourage and foster innovation. The fact of the matter is it seems, on a macro level, like the country is trying to move further and further away from what enabled it to be great. I would love to limit the impediments to the financing of innovation. I’d love to foster the encouragement of innovation through financing, through tax policy both locally and nationally, and so to the extent that our policy-makers don’t wish to see people leaving the state that are the financiers of innovation, then they probably need to reflect that in the policies that would encourage said financing. How would you implement those changes in Baltimore? I guess the question is “how do we foster innovation in Baltimore?” Well, I think there’s a number of things that need to be done. First, as they say, on a country-wide, federal level, we need to have tax policies that foster the financing of innovation. On a state level, the same thing is true. On a local level, we need to create a greater incentive system for people to use not only their time but also their treasure to finance innovative assets here locally. There are a number of people that are leaders in trying to foster that environment. What Kevin Plank is doing is just awe-inspiring, in my view, in terms of creating physical space for this type of activity to occur. What Frank Bonzo is doing in terms of the EdTech [educational technology] community and taking a leadership role—it’s quite powerful. But, sadly, I think we need more people to give of their time and to give of their treasure. The other thing that I’d like to be a part of the solution for is there’s great financing risk due to financing companies outside of the major power centers of innovation, because the power centers lead to the capital being based there. So one of the things that I’d love to be a part of the solution for is to help the financiers of innovation to be aware of the innovative assets that are spawning out of places—like Steve Case would say, through the eyes of the rest—the notion that the innovation economy is occurring more broadly going forward than it has in the past. And, because we partner with those financiers, we would like to think we can make them aware of some of the companies that are growing right here in our backyard.
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