Canaan Partners recruits Kjellson as GP

Canaan Partners has hired Nina Kjellson as a general partner. Previously, Kjellson worked at InterWest Partners where she also served as a general partner.


MENLO PARK, CA – September 30, 2015 — Canaan Partners, a leading early-stage, diversified venture capital firm, today announced that veteran healthcare investor Nina Kjellson has joined Canaan’s team as a General Partner. Ms. Kjellson will be based in the firm’s Menlo Park, CA office. In addition, tenured Canaan investor, Hrach Simonian, has been promoted to General Partner in the firm’s Technology practice.

Ms. Kjellson brings significant prior investing experience to the Canaan team, having previously served as a general partner at InterWest Partners, where over the past thirteen years, she was involved with over two dozen investments and delivered numerous successful exits. Her most recent exit was migraine company, Labrys Biologics, which was a co-investment with Canaan Partners and was acquired by Teva Pharmaceuticals last year. Nina has extensive private and public board experience and currently serves as a director of three biotech firms, Eiger Bioparma, Lycera Corp., and Ocera Therapeutics (Nasdaq: OCRX), and Welltok Inc. a software company focused on health optimization.

“Nina has a stellar track record of investing in a diversity of biopharmaceutical and digital health start-ups and this experience is a great fit with Canaan’s strategy,” said Wende Hutton, Healthcare General Partner. “She also has a passion for high engagement, working side-by-side with entrepreneurs on early stage opportunities which is Canaan’s sweet spot. And from a cultural perspective, we know Nina well and she is a great fit – she is energetic, thoughtful and shares our vision to continue to build a multi-generational, world-class organization.

“After several wonderful years at InterWest, I am excited to enter the next phase of my career and to continue to support new innovation that truly benefits patients,” says Nina. “Whether backing companies developing drugs, apps or enterprise software that change the healthcare system for the better, I love working at an early stage and partnering with entrepreneurs, putting in the sweat equity required to build great companies. From experience, I know the synergies possible in a balanced fund with both tech and healthcare and I know that I thrive in a high performing, collaborative environment. In Canaan, I found everything I was looking for and am thrilled to be joining the team.”

Mr. Simonian has helped Canaan grow its West Coast technology practice with both consumer and enterprise investments. Hrach led Canaan’s investment in Instacart as well as the initial venture round in several marketplace deals where he serves on the board: Cargomatic, CompStak, Realty Mogul and Washio. As an early stage lead investor in multiple on-demand and sharing economy companies, Hrach has looked for a marketplace element in all of his investments, whether it be in data exchange, logistics, or lending. He has also worked closely with several Canaan portfolio companies including RelayRides, Kabam, Zoosk and Ebates.
“Hrach is an engineer turned investor who started at Canaan in 2007 as an investment analyst and has held every IP title in the firm on the road to General Partner,” said Maha Ibrahim, Technology General Partner. “He has made an impact on the firm since day one and is poised to be a standout in today’s new crop of venture capitalists.”

About Canaan Partners
For nearly 30 years, Canaan Partners has been investing in entrepreneurs with visionary ideas to improve the way we live our lives. With over $4.2 billion under management and more than 160 exits to date, Canaan has funded some of the world’s most innovative companies in both technology and healthcare. Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, Canaan also has offices in New York City and Westport, Connecticut. For more information, visit us at and follow us on Twitter @canaanpartners.

About Nina Kjellson
Nina has been investing in healthcare for 16 years, the past 13 at InterWest Partners and previously at Bay City Capital and Oracle Partners. Current investments include, Cidara Therapeutics, Eiger Biopharma, Lycera Corp., Ocera Therapeutics (OCRX), Paratek (PRTK), TESARO (TSRO), Welltok Inc. and Alvine. Previous investments include Labrys Biologics (acquired by Teva Pharmaceuticals), Alt12 (acquired by Honest Company), Trius Therapeutics (TSRX; acquired by Cubist), CNS Therapeutics (acquired by Covidien), NovaCardia (acquired by Merck), and Aspreva (ASPV; acquired by Galenica). Nina began her career conducting research at the Kaiser Family Foundation. She has a B.A. from Stanford University in Human Biology.

About Hrach Simonian
Prior to joining Canaan, Hrach served as an Associate at Rutberg & Company. He also held several positions at Northrop Grumman and TRW. Hrach holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Previously, he earned an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UCLA.