Featured Investors
July 1, 2024

Featured Investor | July 2024 - Phoebe Zhang of DivcoWest Ventures

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

Phoebe Zhang is a Director at DivcoWest Ventures, an early and growth-stage fund that invests in technologies shaping the future of real estate and the urban environment. DivcoWest Ventures is part of DivcoWest, a vertically integrated real estate investment firm. Previously, Phoebe was a Senior Consultant at IBM’s Strategy and Corporate Development team where she helped the company in identifying new growth opportunities and potential acquisitions in the data and AI sector. Before that, she was an Investment Banking Associate at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, offering advice to technology firms on equity financing. Phoebe holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Commerce from University of British Columbia. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, doing yoga, playing golf, and reading books.

EVCA: Describe a defining moment in your career and how it shaped where you are today.

Phoebe: A defining moment in my career was realizing the importance of finding my voice. Growing up in a Chinese community that deeply respects authority, speaking up in the workplace didn't come naturally to me. This changed in business school when a professor cold-called on me unexpectedly, challenging me to articulate my thoughts on a complex case study. Though nerve-wracking, this experience initiated my journey of self-expression. As I re-entered the business world, supportive mentors continued to encourage me to share my ideas openly. This growth has enabled me to confidently present investment theses and communicate effectively with investors and founders in my current role. While I still occasionally feel that initial hesitation, I've come to understand the value of my unique perspective. This ongoing journey has not only shaped my career trajectory but also deepened my appreciation for the importance of diverse voices in decision-making.

EVCA: What is an emerging technology trend that will have a significant impact on the world in the next decade?

Phoebe: An emerging technology trend that will have a significant impact on the world in the next decade is the broader adoption of technologies for decarbonizing the real estate and construction industry, which accounts for nearly 40% of global carbon emissions. These innovations can transform how buildings are constructed, operated, and repurposed. Some examples of these technologies include distributed renewable energy and load-shifting technologies (such as solar, geothermal, battery storage, bi-directional EV charging, and smart thermostats), AI-driven climate risk assessment tools, low-carbon building materials, and smart building management systems. This shift towards sustainable urban ecosystems promises not only to significantly reduce carbon emissions but also to enhance resilience to climate change, improve quality of life, and drive economic growth through the emergence of new green industries and job opportunities.