Christine Tsai



Christine Tsai was born in Guam but moved to the Bay Area when she was four. A founding partner at 500 Startups, a seed fund and accelerator, she's led investments in companies like ipsy, Sprig, and Homejoy. Prior to that, she worked in product marketing at Google and YouTube. A mom to two young boys (and two dogs), Tsai, 34, has found that there are actually a lot of similarities between parenthood and startup-land. Soon, she'll add reality television star to her resume -- SyFy Network is currently filming a show around 500 Startups.

What do you actually do all day in your job?

Most of my day is spent with people -- portfolio companies, prospective portfolio companies, 500 staff, fellow investors, reporters, old colleagues, attending events, filming our upcoming TV show (yes, TV show).

This is why I love what I do. I've grown tremendously over the last five years because of every single interaction and relationship. Throughout the day, I'm always thinking about 500, the team and how we can do things harder/better/faster/stronger.


How many hours do you sleep?

Not enough. I have a bad habit of going to bed late, and my sleep is always interrupted by either my 3-year-old or my 11-month-old. I miss sleep.


What do you eat for breakfast?

Coffee, eggs, toast or pastry, and fruit. Recently, I've started drinking lemon water first thing in the morning which is supposed to kickstart your digestive and immune systems. It's a good habit because I'm forgetful about hydration.


If you could be pitched to by one person, who would it be?

Larry and Sergey in 1998, pitching Google.


What's on your homescreen?


How often do you exercise?

I'd like to say I go to ballet class regularly, which is my preferred form of exercise. That hasn't happened in awhile, but I hope to change that. Nowadays, my exercise is comprised of chasing my kids down or carrying them. Mom biceps are a real thing.


What app can't you live without?

Instagram. Anyone who knows me knows the only thing I love more than food is looking at pictures of food.


What's your favorite city?

Too hard to pick one. My favorite cities are NYC, Seoul and Honolulu. The hustle and bustle of urban life, juxtaposed with sandy beaches and malasadas.


Uber, Lyft, or yellow cab?

I prefer driving my own car. But if I have to rely on something else, I go with Uber.


Are there any social platforms you won't participate in?

Nothing that I wouldn't at least try out.


What are you reading right now?

It's been awhile since I read a book, so I'm open to suggestions.


The Strand or City Lights?

I mostly read online -- tech/VC blogs. I also enjoy the NY Times, Atlantic, New Yorker.


Best piece of advice you've been given?

Be the person you want others to perceive you as. So if you want others to see you as a leader, then act like one. Don't expect things to be handed to you. You have to work for it.


What keeps you up at night?

Emails, Netflix, or my kids.


If you could tell your 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?

In life, you don't get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate. So don't be afraid to ask -- the worst you can hear is "no."

Readers: Are you a tech entrepreneur with a story? Email for the chance to be profiled in an upcoming story.
Christine Tsai, Shutterstock