We've interviewed dozens of founders for a new series on product-market fit.

Todd Jackson

Partner

Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to work on some of the biggest tech products in the world. I helped build now-familiar products like Gmail’s user interface, Facebook’s Newsfeed, Twitter’s timeline and Dropbox’s bottom-up revenue engine.

Something that all of these products have in common is that they’re deeply technical on the backend but extremely user-friendly on the frontend. Now that I look back, this knack for figuring out how to translate complex technology into simple and powerful user experiences has been a theme throughout my career. 

This is a critical skill for founders to cultivate as well — something I came to realize when I launched my own startup, Cover, in 2013. To validate our idea, we talked to hundreds of Android users to understand their functional and emotional needs and distilled them to build a simple product. We eventually raised our seed round from Josh Kopelman at First Round (one of the best moves ever!) and felt first-hand the value that First Round brings as an investor. All of this was critical to helping Cover gain millions of users and eventually get acquired by Twitter in 2014. 

After years of angel investing in companies like Vanta, WorkOS, Material Security, Alma, Modern Animal, Snackpass and GoodDog, I joined First Round — first as a Founder in Residence, then as a full-time Partner in 2020. Through all that, I never lost my passion for products that are complex under the hood but simple and powerful to the user — or what I like to call “power tools.” This ongoing fascination has led me to invest in companies like Kubecost, Rupa Health, Play, Subscript, Spline, Lamini and Turnstile. 

But more than the product, I just really love working with founders who are intensely focused, insanely driven and totally immersed in their company-building journeys. I want to work with teams that aren’t afraid to take what feels like an unsolvable problem, obsess over it until they feel like they have a better understanding of it than anyone else and then build an elegant solution to solve it. 

When it comes to what I bring to the table for founders, my big differentiator is that I understand how to build great products — and I’ve spent years unpacking the art and science behind product-market fit. I’ve worked with hundreds of founders who have reached the highest levels of PMF, developed and tested dozens of frameworks and am constantly trying to unlock what every founder knows is the most critical, but also the most complicated, aspect of company building. We even started a series on the First Round Review that dives deep into the PMF journeys of various founders. My hope is that, eventually, we can help all our founders get to the highest level of product-market fit faster so that we can introduce more generational, life-changing companies to the world.

Todd Jackson is a Partner based on the West Coast. Prior to joining First Round, he served as the VP of Product & Design at Dropbox from 2015 until the company’s IPO in 2018.

Before Dropbox, Todd was the Director of Product Management for the Content & Discovery teams at Twitter. Todd joined the social media platform via acquisition of his startup, Cover, in 2014. Todd served as co-founder and CEO of the Android startup, which was seed funded by First Round in 2013. From conception to acquisition, Todd was at the helm as Cover found product/market fit and gained over two million users in the first couple months, with zero money spent on paid acquisition.

Prior to founding a company, Todd served as the Product Manager for Newsfeed, Photos and Groups at Facebook. He started his career at Google as an Associate Product Manager who went on to lead product for Gmail as it went from beta to 200 million users. Todd received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Computer Science from Stanford University.