Six Quick Questions with Navin Chaddha of Mayfield


Navin Chaddha joined Mayfield Fund less than three years ago, but he is already one of the firm’s most recognizable faces.

The 38-year-old got his start as an entrepreneur at the age of 25 and successfully co-founded three VC-backed companies that were eventually acquired or went public: VXtreme, a VC-backed streaming media software company; iBeam Broadcasting, an Internet streaming media provider; and Rivio, which provided Web-based services to optimize operations for small businesses.

Chaddha made the shift to venture in 2003, joining Mobius Venture Capital as an EIR, then transitioning to venture partner. A year later, he became a general partner at Gabriel Venture Partners, then joined Mayfield as a managing director in September 2006.

Chaddha was named No. 11 on Forbes’ Midas List this year, down one spot from the prior year, and in May he was given a Young Global Leader Award from the World Economic Forum.

I caught up with him in San Francisco at last month’s Venture Capital Investing Conference, where he was was co-chairman, and asked him six quick questions (three that were business related and three that were just for fun).

JUST BUSINESS

Q: What do you mean by the term “energytech” and how does it differ from cleantech?

A: Energytech is the application of technology to the energy industry, which produces $6 trillion in revenue. Cleantech, or investing in renewable energy sources, is a subset of energytech. We believe an end-to-end approach of leveraging technology to make the entire value chain more efficient is the right way to go—from generation to distribution to consumption of energy.

Q: Do you think most cleantech investments are misguided because they rely so heavily on government policies or subsidies?

A: Some cleantech investments that are capital intensive and require project finance or rely on government policies or subsidies are not looking suitable for VC investments in the long run. The ones that make sense are economically viable without any subsidies, such as energy-efficiency investments.

Q: Do you think the venture industry is overcapitalized?

A: I think the industry is overcapitalized and it has to shrink from the current $25 billion to $30 billion in annual investment. A healthy level would be around $15 billion annually.

JUST FOR FUN

Q: Where do you plan to go on vacation this summer?

A: Banff [in Alberta, Canada] or Switzerland. I have family coming in from Delhi, where it’s 120 degrees, so they want to go somewhere cooler.

Q: You played competitive cricket in college. Do you still play?

A: Yes, I play on and off about every two weeks or so. Some of my friends are trying to get me to join the Indian Cricket League, which has about 50 teams and plays once a week.

Q: What position do you play?

A: I’m an allrounder. I do bowling [pitching] and batting.

(This item originally appeared in the July issue of Venture Capital Journal. For a free trial, click here.)