Mar 1, 2017
Money Advice from a Venture Capitalist: Be Generous
Venture capitalist Chi-Hua Chien, an early investor in Facebook, chatted with Stash about his personal philosophies about money. Here’s what he had to say.
Stash sat down with venture capitalist, Chi-Hua Chien, to get the scoop on his past and present experience in the world of venture capital.
Chi-Hua is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Goodwater Capital. He spoke with us about venture capital (VC), his personal money habits, and how his parents shaped his financial outlook.
“I was very fortunate early on in my career to have the opportunity to meet and invest in a little company called the Facebook when it was six employees and just a few hundred thousand registered users,” he said.
Facebook was one of the first companies in which he invested at the beginning of his career, when he was at a VC firm called Accel Ventures. (Raise your hand if you wish you had invested in the Facebook in the early 2000s!)
“Over a 14 year venture career now, I’ve had the chance to invest at pretty early stages in companies like Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Waze, and Chegg – which is a textbook rental company. And also countless others which were not as successful, but from which I really learned a lot.”
Lessons for success
We wanted to figure out some of the reasons behind Chi-Hua’s success today. We asked him the number one thing his family taught him about money that he still uses today.
“My parents taught me two principles that have really guided how I see the world,” he said. “The first is frugality and the second is generosity.”
The way to look at money is not as a possession, but as something you’re responsible for stewarding effectively.
He told me about his father’s journey as an immigrant to this country, and the family’s station wagon that his father took great care of and drove to work every day for 30 years.
“They were so frugal, saving every penny so they could invest it in us, their four children […] and really prepare us for the future,” he said. “At the same time, they were incredibly generous. Whenever there was anybody in their community […] in need, they didn’t hesitate to help that person out, with money or with resources.”
He went on to say that he views money as more than just currency, but also as an effective tool of support and care within a community.
“And I really learned from them, the way to look at money is not as a possession, but as something that you’re responsible for stewarding effectively for the benefit and the care of the people who are in your community, […]. And those two principles of frugality and generosity—are ones that, not only do I apply in my personal life, but I think can be applied very broadly into work, community, and all the interactions that you have with others.”
Looking to the future
When you think of a venture capitalist, qualities like intelligence, quick-thinking, and pragmatic analysis probably come to mind. Numbers! Bottom-line! Growth-potential! But Chi-Hua Chien has brought frugality and generosity to the venture capital world and to his personal relationship with money and the world.
In closing, we asked Chi-Hua what he hopes to teach his daughter about money.
“I’d love to teach my daughter the same thing that my parents taught me, which is generosity. The resources that we have are not our own. They are resources that we have been entrusted with, to be good stewards of, in service of others, in service of our community, in service of the people around us, in service of those who have less.”
And if Chi-Hua’s career is any indication, a mix of generosity and action can take you a long way.
Disclosure: Goodwater Capital is an investor in Stash, and that investment included really tasty gelato for some of the early Stash employees.
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