His name is Josh Harder. From 2014 to 2017, he worked for Bessemer Venture Partners in various roles, earning a promotion to vice president during 2016. That came shortly after Harder shifted his base of operations from BVP's New York location to its office in San Francisco—a move that presaged his political aspirations in the Golden State.
It was also a homecoming. Harder is a graduate of Modesto High School in Modesto, CA, the largest city in the state's 10th District. His family has deep roots in the region: In an August op-ed for the Modesto Bee about water rights, Harder wrote about his great-great-grandparents, who moved to Manteca, CA, in the middle of the 19th century to start a peach farm.
This week, the region is in the news for reasons more contentious than fruit. The 10th District is the site of a key battleground race during this year's midterm elections, with Harder—a Democrat—attempting to unseat the Republican incumbent, Jeff Denham, who has served in Washington since 2010.
Harder's attempt to represent a region where agriculture is king might seem counter to the typical Silicon Valley ethos. But in other ways, Harder is representative of a certain breed of well-pedigreed investor. After earning his undergraduate degree at Stanford, Harder attended both Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Before becoming a VC, he spent three years working as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. He chose to join BVP—a longstanding firm that traces its roots to the Gilded Age. And in his time at BVP, Harder targeted investments in the tech-friendly sectors of mobile, telecom, infrastructure and enterprise applications.
From past press releases put out by the firm, we know that Harder helped lead BVP's investments in five different tech companies that, during his time at the firm, combined to raise more than $300 million in total venture cash. What sorts of companies does a would-be Congressman think are worth investing in? Let's take a closer look: