Presented By O’Reilly and Cloudera
Make Data Work
September 11, 2018: Training & Tutorials
September 12–13, 2018: Keynotes & Sessions
New York, NY

VC trends in machine learning and data science

Sarah Catanzaro (Amplify Partners), Rama Sekhar (Norwest Venture Partners), Zavain Dar (Lux Capital), Jonathan Lehr (Work-Bench), Crystal Huang (NEA)
4:35pm–5:15pm Wednesday, 09/12/2018

In the past decade, enterprises have realized the strategic value of data and implemented processes and infrastructure to collect high-volume, high-velocity, high-complexity, datasets. Having accumulated massive datasets, they must now use data science and machine learning to extract business value from this asset. Nonetheless, the playbook for designing and executing data science and machine learning strategy remains unwritten.

In this panel discussion, venture capital investors explain how startups can accelerate enterprise adoption of machine learning and explore the new tech trends that will give rise to the next transformation in the big data landscape.

Photo of Sarah Catanzaro

Sarah Catanzaro

Amplify Partners

Sarah Catanzaro is a principal at Amplify Partners, where she focuses on investing in high-potential startups that leverage machine intelligence and high-performance computing to solve real-world problems. Previously, Sarah co-led investments in Kinetica, Platform9, and Fluxx at Canvas Ventures. Sarah has several years of experience in developing data acquisition strategies and leading machine and deep learning-enabled product development at organizations of various sizes: As head of data at Mattermark, she led a team to collect and organize information on over one million private companies; as a consultant at Palantir and as an analyst at Cyveillance, she implemented analytics solutions for municipal and federal agencies; and as a program manager at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, she directed projects on adversary behavioral modeling and Somali pirate network analysis. Sarah holds a BA in international security studies from Stanford University.

Photo of Rama Sekhar

Rama Sekhar

Norwest Venture Partners

Rama Sekhar is partner at Norwest Venture Partners, where he focuses on early- to late-stage venture investments in enterprise and infrastructure, including the cloud, big data, DevOps, cybersecurity, and networking. Rama’s current investments include Agari, Bitglass, and Qubole. Previously, Rama was an investor in Morta Security (acquired by Palo Alto Networks), Pertino Networks (acquired by Cradlepoint), and Exablox (acquired by StorageCraft). Before joining Norwest, Rama was with Comcast Ventures; a product manager at Cisco Systems, where he defined product strategy for the GSR 12000 Series and CRS-1 routers—$1B+ networking products in the carrier and data center markets; and a sales engineer at Cisco Systems, where he sold networking and security products to AT&T. Rama holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in finance and entrepreneurial management and a BS in electrical and computer engineering, with high honors, from Rutgers University.

Photo of Zavain Dar

Zavain Dar

Lux Capital

Zavain Dar is a principal at Lux Capital. Zavain is driven by smart software, leveraging data and machine intelligence to scale, augment, and balance human intelligence. He invests in companies that are using machine learning and AI to augment or replace physical-world functions, including biology, language, manufacturing, and analysis. He looks for entrepreneurs that can use software and data to hone a philosophical position on where the world is and how to direct it for the better. Zavain has led Lux’s investments in Primer, a machine intelligence startup; Clarifai, which democratizes cutting-edge deep neural networks; Capella, which is developing novel medicines based on computational insight applied to genomic data; Recursion, which uses automation and deep learning to develop drugs for rare diseases; Tempo Automation, which applies software and automation to electronics manufacturing; Rigetti Computing, which is fabricating some of the fastest quantum chips in the world; Visor, which aims to simplify tax preparation; and Blockstack, which builds architectures to decentralize current winner-take-all centralized web components. Previously, Zavain was a founder and computer scientist. At Discovery Engine (acquired by Twitter), he engineered machine learning and AI systems across a proprietary distributed computing framework to build web-scale ranking algorithms. Zavain was also a cofounder of Fountainhop, one of the first hyperlocal social networks. Zavain holds a BS in symbolic systems and an MS in computer science from Stanford, where he was a researcher in Stanford’s AI Lab. He is currently a lecturer at Stanford and has taught quarter-long seminars on cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence and philosophy, and venture capital.

Photo of Jonathan Lehr

Jonathan Lehr


Jonathan Lehr is a cofounder and general partner at Work-Bench, where he focuses on early-stage enterprise technology investments in areas including AI/ML infrastructure and applications, cybersecurity, cloud-native infrastructure, and the future of work. Previously, Jon worked at Morgan Stanley on the Office of the CIO team in IT, where he partnered with internal technology clients to facilitate the selection and onboarding of emerging technology vendors. He has written about enterprise technology trends for publications such as the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal and TechCrunch. Jon founded the NY Enterprise Technology meetup in January 2012 and organizes monthly meetups of the 5,000+ person group as a way to promote collaboration for the enterprise tech ecosystem in New York, with a focus on connecting entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 technologists, investors, and graduate students to network and learn from one another. He holds a BSE in bioengineering, with minors in mathematics and economics, from the University of Pennsylvania.

Photo of Crystal Huang

Crystal Huang


Crystal Huang is a principal in NEA’s New York offices, where she focuses on enterprise software, infrastructure, and security. Previously, she spent nearly five years at GGV Capital in Silicon Valley, where she worked closely with many of the firm’s portfolio companies, including OpenDoor, Slack, Wish, BigCommerce, Tile, HashiCorp, Unravel Data, BrightWheel, NS1, and Wish, and led or sourced the firm’s investments in Bitsight, Headspin, and Aptible, among others. Prior to GGV, Crystal worked in technology investment banking at Blackstone and sales and trading at Goldman Sachs. She was named to Forbes’s “30 under 30” list for venture capital in 2016. Crystal holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

Comments on this page are now closed.


John Shap | CEO
09/05/2018 6:39am EDT

Hi – I’m the CEO of an AI/ML startup raising a Seed round. At this level of funding, the investors I’ve talked with often don’t know about or understand AI, ML, Data Science, etc. How should I position the investment opportunity to them without overwhelming them with tech speak?