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Birchbox Co-Founder Hayley Barna Joins First Round Capital as First Female Partner

Barna will be based in New York City and focus on consumer startups in e-commerce and beyond.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

One of the best known seed-stage venture capital firms has hired its first female partner.

First Round Capital, with early investments in Uber, Square and Blue Apron, has hired Birchbox co-founder and former co-CEO Hayley Barna as a venture partner. Barna has gotten to know First Round well since the firm led Birchbox’s seed round in 2010. First Round partner Phin Barnes also sits on Birchbox’s board of directors.

Barna will be based in New York City and focus on consumer startups in e-commerce and beyond. She had been advising and making small investments in startups after leaving Birchbox six months ago, where she had overseen tech, marketing and operations since co-founding the online beauty retailer in 2010.

Barna fills the venture partner role vacated by Wiley Cerilli, an entrepreneur-turned-investor who just left First Round to start another company. The expectation is that Barna will stay with First Round for two years before deciding whether she wants to launch another company, stay in investing, or do something else. She will focus on investing in New York-based startups.

While she tried to downplay the significance of her being the first woman to hold a partner role with 12-year-old First Round, she acknowledged that more female venture partners could lead to more woman-led startups with female customer bases getting funded.

“First and foremost I’m excited to be an investor,” she said. “But I do think it’s a human job; you bring your unique perspective and part of my perspective is my gender.”

In a blog post, First Round’s Barnes said, “Sitting on Birchbox’s board, we had a front row seat to this growth. Hayley emerged as a deeply analytical thinker with horsepower for days. She attacks challenges with tremendous curiosity and the unshakable belief that a solution is available to those willing to apply the required focus and effort. She’s a fierce advocate for her beliefs but values data above personal conviction. This allows her to operate with an outcome-oriented approach that fits First Round perfectly.”

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