A New York VC Spotlight: Lawrence Lenihan



Lawrence Lenihan, a major player in New York’s startup ecosystem, is a founder and managing director of the venture capital firm, FirstMark Capital.

Lenihan received his MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from Duke University. He started working at IBM after college before becoming a principal at Broadview Associates LLC, a mergers and acquisitions advisory firm (now part of Jeffries and Co.).

From Broadview Associates, Lenihan went on to become a founder and senior managing director of the venture capital firm, Pequot Ventures. The predecessor to FirstMark Capital, Pequot was founded in 1996 and closed in 2007. During his time there, Lenihan met his future FirstMark co-founders Amish Jani, Richard Heitzmann and Gerald Poch.

FirstMark Capital, which focuses on seed and early-stage investments in e-commerce, education, gaming, media, mobile, adtech, fintech, healthcare and infrastructure, has invested in companies such as Pinterest, Knewton, Shopify and SecondMarket. Previous investments of FirstMark include Riot Games, StubHub, First Advantage and Boomi, all of which have been acquired. Typically, Lenihan sits on the boards of the current companies in his individual portfolio within the firm.

In 2009, Lenihan’s love of the fashion industry led to his co-founding Norisol Ferrari, LLC, named after the designer. A fashion line for women, Norisol Ferrari consists of one-of-a-kind, handcrafted pieces, all made in New York. He served as chairman of the board from 2009 to 2010.

As an active participant in the NYC entrepreneurial community, Lenihan currently serves on the NYC Economic Development Fashion 2020 Advisory Board. He is also a chairman and mentor of the NYC Ventures Fellows Program. He is an adviser for the Mayor’s Council on Technology and Innovation, as well.

Besides his work in New York, Lenihan has served as judge for Ernst & Young’s National Entrepreneur of the Year Award, where he chaired the venture capital award.  As an alumnus, he serves as chairman of the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering Devil Venture Fund.

Lenihan is an adjunct professor at New York University Stern School of Business. For the past 5 years, he has taught a course on entrepreneurship called “Ready, FIRE!, Aim: New Entrepreneurial Strategies for a New Business Environment.” He is also an adviser for the student-run Tech@NYU initiative.

VC Firm:

Founder and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital (Founded in 2007)
Founder and Senior Managing Director of Pequot Ventures (Founded in 1996, shut down in 2007)


E-commerce, Social Commerce, Enterprise, Healthcare, Fintech, Fashion, Retail, Retail Technology, SaaS


NYC Venture Fellows Program
Tommy John
SecondMarket, Inc.
Dovetail Insurance
EagleEye Analytics
TraceLinkSuperior Access Insurance Services
OpenGamma (2010-2012)

Expertise Areas:

Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, Startups, Investments, Corporate Development, Strategy, Public Speaking, Private Equity, Strategic Planning, Due Diligence

Selected Investments:

OutlookSoft sold to SAP for estimated $200-$400 million
NewRiver sold to Broadridge for $77 million
Duck Creek Technologies sold to Accenture Technologies for undisclosed amount
Send the Trend sold to QVC for undisclosed amount

Twitter, Blogs & Websites:


Memorable Quotes:

On dressing for success: “My aspiration and inspiration for my personal style is to ask, ‘What would Cary Grant wear if he stepped out of a time machine in 2012 and lived in New York for 6 months?’”

On the fashion industry: “Promote through theatrics in your experience, not on price.  Discounting as an everyday strategy is an exercise in brand destruction that will destroy the magic of this incredible industry.”

On choosing New York for FirstMark Capital’s location: “New York is the largest generator of goods and services in the Western hemisphere, and so when you’re talking about companies that are going to transform these industries, you’re going to go where your customers are and you’re going to go where the people know the markets.”

Why investments aren’t the be-all and end-all for businesses: “Guess what? Revenue matters. Revenue used to matter. Revenue will always matter.”

On using your social platforms to create credibility within your brand: “In the world in which we currently live, everyone is a celebrity to some number of people. Perhaps it’s just one person, or maybe it’s millions, but almost everyone provides some level of influence greater than zero over some number of people greater than zero.”

On the importance of integrity: “Every low-integrity action erases a dozen high integrity actions. One bad action is really costly because it makes all future actions suspect.”

Click for more Venture Capitalists in New York.

About the author: Jennifer Mottola

Jennifer recently received her MFA in creative writing from Manhattanville College, where she was fiction editor of the school’s literary journal, Inkwell.  She is currently a copy-editing intern for AlleyWatch.

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