A New York VC Spotlight: Deborah Farrington



Deborah Farrington is a significant force in the world of venture capital.  In 1998, Farrington, along with two other women, founded StarVest Partners, L.P., a venture capital firm in New York City that invests in technology-enabled business services companies with a focus on software-as-a-service, e-commerce and Internet marketing.  She is also a general partner at the firm.

Farrington sits on the boards of several companies, including Fieldglass, which was acquired by Madison Dearborn, and Insurance.com, bought by QuinStreet.  These investments and subsequent exits were no modest feat, earning her the informal title, “Queen Midas,” after being featured as the highest-ranking female venture capitalist on Forbes’ Midas List in 2011.  She is also the lead director and chairman of the Compensation Committee at NetSuite Inc, and a board member and chairman of the Compensation Committee at Collectors Universe.

Prior to founding StarVest Partners, Farrington served as the president and CEO of Victory Ventures, LLC, private equity investment firm based in New York.  Farrington served as managing director of Asian Oceanic Group, a merchant bank in Hong-Kong.  For eleven years, she was in management positions spanning international and domestic investment banking and securities analysis with Merrill Lynch & Co. based in New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

She is a graduate of Smith College and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

VC Firm:

Founder & General Partner at StarVest Partners, L.P. (Founded in 1998) 

Sector Focus:

Software-as-a-Service, E-Commerce, Venture Capital, Internet Marketing.

Notable Investments:

Fieldglass sold to Madison Dearborn for $220 million
Insurance.com sold to QuinStreet for $35.6 million


Host Analytics
Collectors Universe (NASDAQ: CLCT), Board Member, Chairman of Compensation Committee
NetSuite, Inc (NYSE: N), Lead Director, Chairman of Compensation Committee

Expertise Areas:

Venture Capital, Management, Strategy, Technology, Marketing, Business Development.

Blogs, Twitter & Websites:

Company Website

Memorable Quotes:

On important leadership lessons:  “I found early on as a manager that it was hard to learn how to delegate.  I think that most people in their early leadership positions either tend to delegate too little or too much.  At first, I delegated too little…So I sat down and talked to the people who worked for me, and we agreed on various goals.  But then I delegated too much.  When they came back at the end of the quarter and I saw what they did, I realized that approach didn’t work well, either.  I learned the importance of weekly check-ins, and then I think I got the balance right.”

On creating her perfect corporate culture:  “We wanted to start a firm that was based on respect for the individual, with a moral culture.  We started out with a rule: No jerks allowed, ever.  The language was a little more blunt, but you get the idea.  We had all worked with too many people like that.”

On the ideal CEO:  “I look for people who don’t think they know all the answers because no one does in this very fast-changing world; especially in technology.  I want to know if they’re going to listen when I’m giving them feedback because I’ve seen a lot.  I’ve invested in about 70 companies, and I’ve looked at hundreds of others.  I tell them, ‘I’m not preaching to you, I’m partnering with you.  I’m not your boss.  I’m a board member, and I’m trying to make you be the best CEO you can be.’”


About the author: Sarah Tibbling

Sarah Tibbling is a recent graduate from William Paterson University where she was the editor-in-chief of the university’s literary magazine, Zeitgeist. She is a copyediting intern for AlleyWatch and enjoys books, cats and the endless social media scroll.

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