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Featured on Dec 06, 2010

Christina Cacioppo

"You got your job off a blog post?"


I'm the analyst ("young kid") at Union Square Ventures and did, in fact, get my job off a blog post. I've got a background in design and economics and now spends my time thinking about how people and communities interact on the internet. I'm also a member of a Brooklyn-championship-winning kickball team and speak a few useful languages (German, French) and a few less-useful languages (Kinyarwanda, Swahili), each with varying degrees of success.

You mention on your website that you like to try out online services and new technologies. What's your personal favorite that has come out in 2010 (New York based is preferable) and why?

Shapeways is new to New York in 2010, and it's super exciting. It's an online marketplace - think eBay or Etsy - for 3d-printed objects. You can upload CAD or Google Sketchup files or pen-and-paper drawings and then get the thing you made printed in 3d printers - machines that are similar to really, really big MakerBots. Or if you don't want to draw something, you can have custom prints made of what other people have done. The bigger idea that we've gotten so good at large-scale manufacturing we can bring it back to individuals in a somewhat cost-effective way is fascinating.

In the past five years you've worked in New York, Silicon Valley, Bolivia, Germany, Uganda, Thailand, and Rwanda, which is an impressive list for someone who is 24. What are one or two of your favorite stories from your travels?

Two years ago, I spent 10 days in Ziway, Ethiopia with small-scale farmers, sleeping in their fields at night and shadowing them during the day to - hopefully - design ultra-low cost products that enabled more efficient farming. We spent one morning with a group of women who pounded red peppers into flakes with a five-foot-tall mortar and pestle. We all tried to pound like they did and developed a tremendous amount of respect for their strength - it was hard work!

In the summer of 2008, I climbed Kilimanjaro with three friends from Stanford. I grew up in Columbus, OH, and I'm still a Buckeye at heart, so at the summit of Kilimanjaro, our guide took a picture of the four of us spelling out O-H-I-O with our arms (a classic sign of Ohio State pride.) It looks pretty silly because we're all wearing five layers of clothing, it's freezing, and we're borderline delirious from the altitude and long hike, but it's one of my favorite photos.

You've worked in both Silicon Valley and New York. What do you think are some of the things that the New York tech community could learn or emulate from Silicon Valley? Is there anything that Silicon Valley might want to take note of from New York?

For New York: The tech culture in the Bay Area has been around so long and is so ingrained that even people out there who aren't directly involved in tech have a strong affinity toward the people and companies in tech. I think fewer New Yorkers who aren't involved in the tech scene feel a similar attachment towards NYC's tech community, but I'm hopeful that's beginning to change as hometown companies like Etsy and Foursquare become household names.

For California: The New York tech community feels small because there's so much else going on in NYC, and it's consequently a closer knit community than the Valley. In my experience, there's more camaraderie in New York, which makes it a really lovely and collaborative place to work.

The blog post where you found your current job at Union Square Ventures said that the position is rotational and that they hope the person they hire will spend a couple of years with them and then move on. Any idea what's next after USV for Christina?

One of the best parts of my job is working with New York City-based entrepreneurs. Whether I continue in VC, move to a startup, or launch a company of my own, I'm looking forward to staying involved in the community.

Analyst, Early Stage Investor