Growth

Carter Adamson

Carter focuses on Growth Stage investments, and specifically Atomico’s US investments, which have included Compass, Clutter, MasterClass and Attentive.  As a…veteran of the tech scene he also has a lot of long boring stories about how phones once were, like, plugged into walls and stuff. 

When I evaluate founders, I look for a sense of humility - and  more specifically, a willingness to admit what they don’t know, what they are not good at… and what they probably never will be.  I think there’s this unhealthy mythology around tech founders and how they need to be preternatural experts in every realm.  This is dangerous, ridiculous and simply not true.  I’d prefer to focus on what you don’t know and how we can actually help you rather than how you are some sort of super hero with “super powers.”  Please.  Save that stuff for LinkedIn.

I embrace randomness

After all, I was born in Virginia Beach, VA — like Pharrell, Missy Elliott and Timbaland.  Three examples of greatness coming from literally nowhere but sweat and drive, and quite frankly the most important lesson I’ve taken from this menagerie of TransAms, pancake houses, dollar hermit crabs and annual Spring Break extravaganzas.

Even though we work in tech, it’s people that matter

We’ve all been at that same sh*tty Starbucks on Sand Hill Road rehearsing the same, lame PowerPoint pitch for the 50,000th time.  It’s horrible, and please: let’s not do this.  Try to connect as humans, because, believe me, there’s no amount of sales slides that’s going to carry any ten year relationship.  

Founders and investors share one vital quality - an insatiable curiosity

Having experienced both sides of the VC divide, I understand that founders and investors are both driven by a desire to find out more - about a market, about a problem, about how to change the world.  As an investor, I can’t lie, there is immense pleasure  from having to suddenly understand a home fabrication market... and then HR automation pain points…. and then the potential value of a virtual breath mint... all within the space of three hours.  I mean, it sure beats the hell out of  weeding your way through a day’s worth of Jira tickets.... 

I struggle to explain how I got here - but I’m glad I did

My poor Mother still has no idea what I do either.   Head of Product, then Founder of various software companies... and now Investor?  At least that’s the way I try to break it down for her these days.

Often I find that some of the best founders have -- beyond their mission -- something profoundly personal that they feel like they need to prove to someone, or the world, no matter what…. some sort of vendetta that they repeated to themselves as a teenager. “That I can scale a company to hundreds of millions in revenue”… “that I can take a company public some day”… it’s real and it’s something that you can almost immediately feel. It’s this that can drive a company…either way, but it definitely drives.
Carter Adamson

I regularly find my hardest challenges come first thing in the morning

Getting kids to school on time, with lunches (that they’ll actually eat) as an independent parent is the hardest job on the planet.   I’m militant; ruthless -- regardless of their states of consciousness.   And I have now finally  learned to embrace the frequent hate mail for the lunches I pack.

Other partnerships with Carter

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