Laela joined CapitalG shortly after its inception in 2013 and has invested in many high-growth companies such as Stripe, Duolingo, Gusto, UiPath and Unqork. Laela came to CapitalG from Google where as Managing Director of Emerging Businesses she launched and scaled a number of businesses and held leadership roles within YouTube and search.
Before joining Google in 2007, Laela was a consultant at Bain & Company, advising companies across media, retail, CPG and private equity. She brings her hands-on operational hypergrowth experience and deep, cross-sector knowledge to her role at CapitalG. Laela holds an AB in Biochemistry from Harvard College, a MSc in Multimedia Systems from Trinity College Dublin and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. An avid basketball player and former captain of her college women’s team, Laela enjoys spending time listening to live music with her wife and kids in her hometown of San Francisco.
How did your time at Google frame your view on growth?
At Google, I helped launch several businesses very quickly, including AdWords Express and Google Offers. We had to build the airplane as it was flying, so to speak. This experience has helped me empathize with growth stage founders since I’ve lived their reality myself.
During my time at Google and CapitalG, I’ve learned to look beyond the obvious and to identify companies with room to scale. I’ve seen first-hand the value of businesses that combine compelling vision with winning teams of grizzled veterans and diverse, creative thinkers.
Why did you move to CapitalG?
I love scaling businesses. I relish partnering with entrepreneurs who have discovered something incredible and want to take it further.
There are many elements to scaling a business, and they all depend on a fundamental shift in thinking. It’s not about surviving, or replicating success. It’s about focus--on what to prioritize, who to have on your team and how to structure your organization. Helping companies make that critical step change is what excites me, everyday.
What makes the growth stage unique?
Early stage businesses work exhaustively to land on something that works. Mature businesses know what works and turn the dials to make it work better.
The growth stage sits right in the middle. It requires data and intuition. To determine the best next step, you need to ask the right questions and interpret data in the right way. But you also need to be creative, by making educated guesses and trusting your hypotheses. I love partnering with startup leaders as they balance this important tension.
What are the building blocks of your relationships with entrepreneurs and CEOs?
Looking at partnerships from a human lens is key; I would never want to take a transactional approach with anyone I advise. At CapitalG I’m freed to partner with leaders in a purposeful, focused way so that I can truly dig into their businesses and add meaningful value.
I don’t use a one-advice-fits-all approach. Entrepreneurs have countless advisors, and they need to be confident that I’m bringing a perspective they can’t get anywhere else. To add value, I focus on the specific gaps my expertise can fill.
What qualities do you most look for in an entrepreneur or a CEO?
I look for people who can impart their vision on everyone with whom they work. An inspiring leader attracts the best kind of talent. You want someone charismatic and passionate about their product. But they also have to be a good person who you want to work with every day. This type of leader can be difficult to find, but they’re often the ones behind the multibillion-dollar companies that endure.