In early 2006 as Coburn Ventures entered its seventh month in existence we got the huge huge opportunity to invite Brynne Thompson – then Brynne Stevens (and an enthusiastic Duke grad as if there is another type of Duke grad) – to join our fledgling team. She said yes though she insisted on giving her prior employer Lehman Brothers four weeks notice so she could actively help them further team efforts before her departure thus reflecting an ever present trait of Brynne – she has an extraordinary level of care for others even when leaving a position on Wall Street which is sadly usually an experience of “good riddance” for most.
Normally we like to get to know people for 3-4 months as candidates but with Brynne it took all of a nanosecond to come to a unanimous enthusiastic agreement. Certainly a big part of this conviction in us came from knowing Brynne at UBS as she was a part of the global technology team working in the semi -conductor group in San Francisco and sitting in an office next to Dave Bujnowski.
Not only was Brynne extremely bright but she didn’t want a “traditional” Wall Street experience that might prove hollow. We strongly sensed that her desire to serve clients was extremely high given her background in not-for-profits and trail of helping others that we could easily chronicle from her high school years on. We also sensed that Brynne was extraordinarily interested in working on and building a team let alone a company.
Prior to pursuing equity research, Brynne served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston assisting low-income community members in the homeownership process.
So Brynne joined in March 2006. For the first several years she intensely focused on developing from a “Wall Street”-geared “financial analysis” into a well-rounded world- class business analyst with far more comprehensive skills including those of pattern recognition of monumental change in society, organizations and people. She developed a rich familiarity with all of our tools so as to be able to weave them into business analysis with efficacy. And quickly she further added to our investment processes actively.
She has written numerous thought pieces for the group including somewhat recently “Questions for Management” and “Vanquishing Decision Making Biases”.
In 2012, Brynne added another dimension to our work by joining Pip in actively working on the portfolio management thinking and processes for the Buckeye Delta fund. Additionally, she is in the development stage for a second fund called Oakley – named after a town in Utah – Brynne’s home state.
When I asked Brynne to offer what might go into this updated bio she responded in part with the following:
“I am an investor, observer, student, writer, wife and mother, aiming to ‘embody’ all of these things rather than succumbing to living life as a series of “to do” lists. That said, she is great at the “to do’s”!”
Brynne married Dave Thompson – adding yet another “Dave” to our fold of “Daves” creating communication challenges for certain . She is mom to a two-year-old son Bax (technically, you guessed it, “David Baxter Thompson”) and a nearly four-month-old daughter Clara. She cherishes her friendships which she actively nurtures as well as her parents, brother, sister, all their kids, cousins and on and on. She also cherishes their tiny dog Josie.
At our offsite last February we initiated a discussion of what we thought was the “purpose” of Coburn Ventures. Without hesitation Brynne offered that it was to demonstrate the best of humanity in a business environment.
…Pip, January, 2013
A Favorite Quote:
“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur… Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts…”… John Wooden