Business

General Catalyst hires its first female managing director

Holly Maloney McConnell

General Catalyst, one of Boston’s largest venture capital firms, has hired Holly Maloney McConnell as the first female managing director in its 17-year history. 

 The firm raised $845 million in its last funding round and now operates four offices around the country. While seven women have a role in investment decisions, McConnell will be the first to take such a high profile position.

McConnell will join the firm’s Boston office after seven years as a principal at Waltham’s North Bridge Growth Equity, which last month rebranded as Guidepost Growth Equity.

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In her previous role, she focused on late-stage growth companies in the software, open source, and infrastructure industries, working with Wordpress’s WP Engine Web hosting platform and Spoonflower, a company that lets customers design and buy their own fabric.

In 2015, she made Forbes’ “30 Under 30 list” in the venture capital industry. 

General Catalyst said that in her new role, McConnell will continue to work with late-stage companies. 

“Holly has a strong track record of earning the respect and trust of the founders she supports and working collaboratively with them to scale their businesses,” the company said in a statement. “She's both competitive and collaborative; she fits in perfectly with our team.”

The addition of McConnell to the General Catalyst team comes on the heels of another high-profile local female hire.

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Last month, Cambridge’s Accomplice brought on Cack Wilhelm as a venture partner. Wilhelm has been based on the West Coast, where she worked on later-stage companies with Scale Venture Partners, and she will continue to operate out of San Francisco.

Accomplice said it conducted 60 interviews in Boston and 45 in San Francisco before ultimately hiring Wilhelm.  

“Cack has a reverence for entrepreneurs, a passion for tweaking the craft, and a history of breaking conventional wisdom (including foregoing “Catherine” for “Cack” as a young child),” Sarah Downey, a principle of the firm, wrote in an announcement about Wilhelm’s hire. “We run fast at Accomplice, and we are pretty sure Cack can keep up: she raced the 5k professionally for two years as a sponsored Nike athlete.”

Accomplice said Wilhelm will work to identify promising companies in enterprise SaaS, cloud, infrastructure, and big data. 

These hires come amid an increased focus on the lack of female representation in venture capital firms, and what that means for both the venture capital network and entrepreneurial community.

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Last December, a National Venture Capital Association survey found that women represented only 11 percent of investment partners or equivalent on venture investment teams across the country. 

‘Holly has a strong track record of earning the respect and trust of the founders . . . ’

“Research shows that diverse teams make better decisions and, with this baseline measurement in hand, we now turn to developing the tools and resources that will empower all venture firms to take action,” Bobby Franklin, the association’s president and chief executive said after the study’s release. 

Perhaps even more compelling to those who are looking for dividends: Research also demonstrates that more gender-diverse venture capital firms also reap higher financial returns on their investments.

General Catalyst said increasing diversity in its ranks is a priority.

“In addition to Holly, today we have six women on the investment team who are early in their careers. It’s something we’re actively working on,” the firm said in a statement. “We have a history of bringing investors in early and developing them into the managing director role and we hope to continue that.”

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Janelle Nanos can be reached at janelle.nanos@globe.com and on Twitter at @janellenanos