Steve Vassallo

General Partner


Steve invests at the intersection of design, technology, and business: at the sweet spot where a product meets a real user need, is built atop a unique insight or technological breakthrough, and has the potential to be a massive business.

He is drawn to founders with two predilections: First, having spent the initial five years of his career designing products at IDEO, Steve gravitates towards product-first founders, who understand how to build technology that delights and improves the lives of its users. Second, he is drawn to founders who want to solve consequential problems. Steve is excited by entrepreneurs who are trying to use technology as a lever to better the world and create something of deep and lasting impact.

Steve invests across all of Foundation Capital’s practice areas and he co-leads the firm’s crypto practice. His companies span the gamut from enterprise and fintech to frontier tech and design. Steve led Foundation’s investments in Anomalo, Bolt Threads, Cerebras Systems, Control4 [CTRL], Framer, KeeperTax, Loft Orbital, Mantle, Mode, Northstar, OAK Networks, Pocket (acquired by Mozilla), Portals, PrivateCore (acquired by Facebook), Simple Habit, Stripe, Sunrun [RUN], and Threads. And he co-led the firm’s investments in Brave, ForUsAll, Outerbounds, and Solana [SOL].

Steve came to Foundation Capital in 2007 from Ning, a social platform he helped launch in 2004 and where he served as vice president of product and engineering. Before Ning, Steve was director of engineering at Immersion [IMMR], which pioneered tactile feedback and human-touch technology. Previously, Steve was a project leader and design engineer at IDEO, where he developed more than a dozen successful products for companies including Cisco, Nike, BMW, Steelcase, McDonalds, and Caterpillar.

His first startup experience came when he was 13 years old and launched his own snow-blowing service (dubbed “Steve’s Snowblowing Service” by his highly paid branding consultants). The business taught him what it meant to be an entrepreneur: to grasp every opportunity at hand even if your fingers get cold and numb in the process.

During Steve’s product design career, his innovations won him over 77 patents and several design awards, including the Business Week Design of the Decade Award, Red Dot Award 2009, IDEA99 Gold and Bronze Awards, NeoCon Gold, and Most Innovative New Product Awards.

Steve is the author of The Way to Design, a guidebook for designer founders. He also writes a regular column for Forbes about product, tech, startups, and “Missionary Misfits.” And he is the convener and host of Product Minds, a dinner series of conversations with industry leaders about the art, science, and drive that go into building great products.

Steve holds a B.S. from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, an M.S. from Stanford University, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford GSB. Outside of work, Steve tries in vain to impart Boston snow-blowing values to his three children growing up in sunny Silicon Valley. His happy place is designing and building a surfboard along with his wife and youngest daughter.