If you’re lucky, you may meet one or two people throughout your career who amaze and inspire you both professionally and personally. These people motivate you to work harder and enable you to work better while also inviting you to explore and embody your personal values in your work life. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to work with one of these people, Natasha Katoni, not just once, but as of this week, twice.
I met Natasha five years ago on my first day of work as the Head of Data at Mattermark. I had just moved back to the Bay Area after a 5-year hiatus to lead the data science team at Mattermark (honestly, a role that I didn’t really understand). I had no idea what a mechanical turk was, what an OKR was, or even what a seed round was. I was scared sh#tless. But upon arriving at our office, I met an ebullient woman whose excitement was contagious and who within hours helped transform my anxiousness into drive.
Throughout our time at Mattermark, I watched as Natasha, who had never worked as a recruiter before, hired several executives, engineers, and data scientists. Each felt her presence long after they signed their offers as she continued to motivate and galvanize them to achieve more, both for themselves and for our team. When times were tough (as they often are at startups), she’d help allay our concerns so we could focus on our objectives; when times were good (as they sometimes are at startups), she’d celebrate our successes. She was a critical resource in not only defining our hiring brand but also defining our culture.
Our professional relationship evolved into a friendship (most people who worked with Natasha would also describe her as a close friend), so I had the opportunity to watch as her career continued to blossom beyond Mattermark. At both Instacart and Segment, she had the same magical effect: catalyzing growth, both mentally and physically, of employees and of teams. She matured in her craft at an astronomical pace, as she learned to define and execute recruiting strategy, lead and develop a recruiting team, and design recruiting processes to ensure a flawless hiring experience.
So you could imagine the butterflies in my stomach when during a Monday morning investment team meeting, my colleague Lenny said “I’m getting an introduction to this woman who runs technical recruiting at Segment. I’ve heard she’s transcendent.” Yes. She is.
When people ask how I evaluate startups, I often say “people, people, people, product, market” (a line I adopted from my former colleague Ben Narasin). As early-stage investors, it is our responsibility to ensure that we invest in and build the right teams to bring a product to market. As such, Natasha’s position as Head of Talent is a critical and strategic role to help our portfolio do just that.
Natasha will partner closely with our founding teams on strategic challenges and opportunities including developing best-in-class recruiting experiences that support employee engagement; identifying and scoping key hiring needs; coaching talent acquisition teams to optimize their hiring processes and other essential functions.
While many investors may offer to help founders, far fewer deliver on this promise. At Amplify, we’ve structured our mandate, funds, and team so that we can align with technical founders and impact their success as they transform projects into products and startups into iconic companies. We know that talent is the cornerstone of enterprise invention, so we’re committed to providing unwavering support to our founders as they build and scale their teams. Having emboldened so many people – myself included – throughout her career, I expect that Natasha will also energize our founders as they embark on and throughout this journey. Because when you’re around Natasha, you believe in yourself and your vision more.
And to that end, although I didn’t think it was possible, with Natasha on board at Amplify, I believe in our team and our vision more too.