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March 8, 2016

Promod Haque looks back: 25 years with Norwest Venture Partners

twisting road

Today, it is our honor to congratulate Promod Haque on his 25th anniversary at Norwest. We’d like to celebrate this career milestone by taking a brief look back on his greatest achievements and share a Q&A that highlights his favorite moments and lessons learned.

Looking Back

Promod joined Norwest in 1990 while still living in Minneapolis, and moved to Silicon Valley with his family in 1996 to help build out Norwest’s presence in the technology venture sector here in Palo Alto. Since this move, Promod has expanded and diversified our firm by stage, sector, and geography. He was responsible for our global expansion into Israel and India as well as shepherding our thriving growth equity and healthcare practices. Thanks to Promod and the team he has built, we’re proud to have offices in San Francisco and New York, as well as subsidiaries in Mumbai and Bengaluru, India, and Herzelia, Israel.

Promod has an extremely enviable investment track record and is well known in the industry for being a strong and supportive board member. Promod has invested in more than 70 companies since he began his venture career, and his investments have been worth more than $40B in aggregate exit value to date. 25 of his portfolio companies have gone public and 37 have been acquired (or have gone public and been acquired). 2015 marked Promod’s eleventh appearance on the annual Forbes Midas List, including 2004, when he was ranked the #1 venture capitalist based on performance over the previous decade. In 2014, Forbes recognized Promod as a “Hall of Fame” investor.

The successful investments that Promod has made over the years, the multiple funds he has been able to raise, and the gains he has produced over the decades are too long to list. However, these tremendous accomplishments date back to his major wins in such companies as Tivoli, Extreme Networks, Forte, and Cerent, all the way to today, with such significant exits as FireEye, Skybox Imaging, and Virtela.

On behalf of everyone in the Norwest family, we would like to congratulate Promod on his 25 years of leadership and success here, and also thank him for all of his past and ongoing contributions.

Wise Words

We recently sat down with Promod to discuss his favorite moments, achievements, and lessons learned over the past 25 years. Here’s what he had to share with us:

What advice do you have for new venture capital investors?

My top piece of advice is to be patient. Everything is going to take longer than you expect. This applies to everything from finding a niche on the investment team, closing that first deal, or realizing gains on an investment. If you look at companies I’m involved with, it took nine years for FireEye and 14 years for Virtela to come to fruition. Today, the road to an exit or IPO is still a long journey and all parties involved should expect to work long and hard before seeing a potential exit.

I also tell new investors to be prepared for change. Most companies will pivot and change dramatically over time, so make sure to bake that into your decision-making process and expectations of the company. With patience and hard work, you can achieve great things.

My last tip is to make sure the people around the table are individuals with whom you want to work. In venture capital, it’s important to have syndicate partners who are like-minded and also bring multiple perspectives and contacts to the group.

What qualities do you look for in an entrepreneur?

The first things I look for are domain expertise and a successful track record. It’s also important to be open to criticism and have the ability to learn from mistakes. Those who are open to being coached and willing to make changes to improve their business or management style are most likely to be great leaders.

What are a few of your proudest moments at Norwest?

All of my proudest moments have involved helping people follow their passions and reach success. At Norwest, it has always been in our DNA to be hands-on and serve as an extension of each portfolio company’s team. We work so closely with founders and entrepreneurs that when they achieve great success, our job is much more rewarding. Some of my fondest memories include watching companies like FireEye and Cerent grow from start-ups to industry leaders.

Inside Norwest, it has been a privilege to grow the firm and personally coach partners who go on to achieve amazing things in their careers. I’m so grateful for the help and valuable perspectives the Norwest team has provided over the past 25 years. I’m also lucky to have worked with such great portfolio management teams and co-investors who have built successful companies.

None of this would have been possible without my faith and the support of my wife and kids. I thank my family for their love and the sacrifices that they have made to accommodate my crazy schedule. Above all, I’m thankful to the Lord Himself who has orchestrated numerous events in my life and guided me through everything. For more about my journey, please see: