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In 13 years as a start-up investor, Elad Gil has backed some of the era’s biggest tech breakouts, such as Airbnb, Instacart, Stripe and Square. He also co-founded genomics company Color, drawing on his Ph.D. in biology and previous work in virology labs.
Late last year, before optimistic vaccine news started rolling out from Pfizer and Moderna, Gil combined his science expertise with his start-up success to scout out his next investment. He was projecting that the developed world would be mostly through the Covid-19 crisis by late 2021, so he started looking for businesses hurt by the pandemic that were poised to rebound sharply on the other side.
Other than Airbnb, which was already in his portfolio, the next best bet he found was TripActions, a developer of travel and expense management software. TripActions cut hundreds of jobs in March amid a massive cutback in corporate travel. Gil, who previously worked at Google and later ran corporate strategy at Twitter, saw the company positioning itself to capture market share when the economy reopens.
Gil connected with TripActions CEO Ariel Cohen through ex-Twitter COO Adam Bain, an investor in the company. Gil and Cohen met first through Zoom and then in person. Now, Gil is co-leading a $155 million financing, investing alongside Andreessen Horowitz and Addition, Lee Fixel’s venture firm.
“I thought it was wise to invest while things still looked tough for travel, because it would be much more expensive to invest when things come rushing back,” said Gil, who lives in San Francisco. “Business travel is not going to go away.”