EVCA Leadership
May 1, 2024

Leadership Spotlight: Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) Vertical Lead, Rachel Zhao of PayPal Ventures

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

The EVCA leadership is dedicated to building community across and empowering the next generation of venture capitalists through an array of activities—from hosting events, knowledge sharing, and connecting others. This EVCA Leadership Spotlight Series is intended to help the broader community get to know what's going on behind the scenes at the EVCA, as well as highlight the valuable contributions of those individuals who make the EVCA possible. Accordingly, it's a great privilege for us to announce this EVCA Leadership Spotlight on our very own EVCA Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) Vertical Lead, Rachel Zhao of PayPal Ventures.

Rachel Zhao is a Principal at PayPal Ventures. Rachel has been focusing on Enterprise and Fintech investment. She is passionate about helping tech companies that are at the forefront of innovation. She joins PayPal Ventures because this is a great platform that can enable her to connect the dots and helps founders, and be supportive from the early days of their entrepreneurship. She is excited to work with founders and VCs in the infrastructure, vertical SaaS,  cyber, e-commerce enablement, application AI, and payments ecosystem.

EVCA: Could you explain more about what you do in your role as an Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) Vertical Lead at EVCA?

Rachel: I lead the Corporate Ventures Capital vertical (CVC) at EVCA. CVC is a unique ecosystem in venture capital as corporate ventures have more exposure and connections to the core businesses of the corporation. As Corporate Ventures arms are emerging, I am passionate about connecting CVC investors and facilitating collaborations.

EVCA: What made you interested in taking a leadership role at EVCA?

Rachel: I can get to know a lot of peer investors and make friends at EVCA. As a young VC investor, I’d love to grow with my peer investors and learn from each other. Being a leader at EVCA can add value to the young venture community and create opportunities for each other.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Rachel: There are many opinions about AI these days, but I think that the real value of AI lies in its applications in areas such as security, law, HR & recruitment, sales & marketing and engineering. Last year, we saw a lot of investment in AI foundational models, but I believe the next big opportunities will be in these AI applications. Technology aims to make our lives easier and business more efficient, and AI can contribute even more. However, I still have questions about how to evaluate a good AI company. Developing great AI applications takes time and requires specific industry expertise to integrate them with particular use cases. Additionally, enterprise adoption of AI is slow because of compliance, risk, and governance issues. Therefore, whenever I encounter an AI company, I always make sure to assess the technology moat, ROI, and the actual value-add of the product.

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