At Norwest Venture Partners, where she is a general partner, Sonya Brown concentrates on investments of $25 million to $100 million in companies with at least $15 million in annual revenue and $3 million in Ebitda.
Palo Alto, California-based Norwest has a $1.2 billion fund, and Brown sits on the boards of the companies she is currently invested in: PCA Skin, The Learning Experience and Bailey 44. She is also a board observer at Madison Reed and Kendra Scott Designs, and was formerly on the boards of My Alarm Center, Aramsco, Airborne Health, Central Security Group, Physicians Formula Holdings, Snap Fitness and Sparta Systems.
Before joining Norwest, Brown worked for nine years at Summit Partners, where she led the consumer and internet industry group for North America. Prior to Summit, in 1999, she founded iXL Ventures, which invested in technology and internet companies. Brown was also vice president of corporate development for the parent company, iXL Enterprises Inc.
Brown tells women considering a career in private equity that it can be personally rewarding, and that PE is an option for women coming out of undergraduate programs or consulting work, and not just those with an investment banking background.
“Personally, I think there’s a lot of satisfaction being involved with companies for the long term and not just during transactions,” Brown says. “So, in terms of career satisfaction, I think it’s fantastic.” And hopefully, she adds, that higher level of job satisfaction “will it keeps women in the game longer,” she adds.
A founding member of The Boardlist, which uncovers and connects women leaders in the technology sector with private and public boards, in 2017, Brown was recognized as one of WWD’s Top Beauty Investors.
Brown has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2014, she received a Harvard Business School alumni award.