Whether he is sailing around the world, running marathons, climbing the highest summits, or investing in a new idea, Neal is a big believer in taking the big chances. He began his investing career by taking a chance on a young founder who had a compelling story and a commitment to see it through. Even though the company was outside of the technology industry, Neal was so impressed with the passion and determination of the founder, that he became a personal investor. That company was Starbucks. Since then, he and his partners have achieved over 30 IPOs and over $2.5 billion in returns. While he is a Silicon Valley legend for investing in some of the most well-known tech companies of all time, Neal now focuses on seed and angel investing as well as mentoring founders and students. Neal’s ability to drive successful outcomes landed him on the Forbes Midas List, which lists the top 100 venture capitalists in the world.
Neal is currently looking for innovation happening in unexpected places around the globe. He believes some of the best ideas for solving real-world problems are happening outside of Silicon Valley. The founders in remote places need mentorship as much as funding. Neal works with cities to help create the infrastructure needed to build and grow a thriving technology sector. Some of Neal’s investments have been in places like Saskatoon, Canada; Helsinki, Finland; Groningen, Netherlands; Valencia, Spain and other places that have a burgeoning tech community, but less resources to make them successful.
Neal is a regular speaker, author and a newly appointed lecturer at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, where he teaches MBA students about entrepreneurship. He is also the founder of Neal’s Running Start, which brings entrepreneurs from around the world to Silicon Valley for an intensive mentorship program with Neal and his posse of accomplished friends.
Giving back is a cornerstone of Neal’s investing philosophy. Neal reached success through the help and assistance of others, financial and otherwise. Therefore, he knows the difference a helping hand can make. Neal not only volunteers at the University of Washington, he has endowed scholarship funds for students, young assistant professors and athletes at the University of Washington, Willammette University and Claremont McKenna College. A lover of outdoors, Neal serves of the board of ACES, an environmental organization in Aspen, Colorado. He also is the incoming Chair of Uplift Family Services, which helps over 30,000 children and their family members recover from trauma, such as abuse, severe neglect, addiction and poverty.