Sep. 30, 2021

YL Ventures Promotes U.S.-Based Michael Cortez to Principal

By John Brennan

Congratulations to Silicon Valley-based Michael Cortez on his promotion to Principal at YL Ventures!

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In some ways, YL Ventures has remained very consistent in my 4+ years at the firm (our focus on Israel, cybersecurity, and what I would argue is an obsession with value-add support for our portfolio, as examples). In some ways, however, we’ve evolved incredibly quickly, always with an eye towards being better seed stage partners for Israeli cybersecurity teams at their earliest stages.

One obvious way in which we’ve changed is in the construction of our team. When I joined YLV in 2017, our U.S. Office consisted of three people, and now I look around to see eight of us (17 globally!), spread across the country and focused on the same mission. With a small team, each additional hire can have an outsized impact (good or bad) on an organization – and it is that risk/reward that makes Michael Cortez‘s emergence as a key contributor to YLV such a blessing. For the past two years, we have been incredibly lucky to have him in our midst.

Michael joined YLV in July 2019, coming to us with a phenomenal background – including stints at Goldman Sachs and at his own startup – but relatively new to the seed investing and security worlds. Undeterred by the unknown, Michael’s capability for quick learning and top tier execution were on display from the start, rapidly transitioning from someone who could successfully leverage the existing YLV infrastructure to add value to someone who strengthened and improved the very foundation on which that value-add ethos is built.

Our portfolio company CEOs would probably tell you that Michael first popped on their radar when his name began appearing consistently in their inboxes, bringing security experts interested in learning about nascent products and willing to lend their expertise to early stage founders with big ambitions. Our advisors would probably point to Michael quickly taking over more and more of our advisory program, improving it (and continuing to do so!) with such initiatives as our regular Friday “Office Hours” where our advisors gather in small groups to discuss their interests and priorities. It seems as though Michael has an endless supply of ideas to serve any of the stakeholders we have here at YLV, including our companies, our network, and our Limited Partners.

From my perspective, Michael has excelled across the board with both high visibility projects (often driving mission-critical portfolio company value), as well in the less glamorous aspects of our jobs that – while often thankless – form the backbone of much of our operationally intensive firm. Beyond (and above) all that, Michael’s positivity and team-first attitude are second to none, and I know that those who have the pleasure of interacting with him regularly have nothing but praise for his outstanding work and his impeccable character, the former which makes me glad to be his colleague, and the latter which makes me proud to be his friend.

In reflecting on the great work Michael has done, I asked a few of our founders to comment on their experiences working w/ him. While Medigate Cofounder and CEO, Jonathan Langer, used adjectives like “diligent” and “thoughtful”, Cycode Cofounder and CEO, Lior Levy emphasized that “he always delivers”. Michael’s tenacity was clear from comments like those of Cofounder and CEO, Roy Erlich (“if the person exists, Michael will get their attention”) or those of one of our stealth-mode CEOs, who said: “when he identifies an open thread or questions, he’ll investigate until he fully understands”. Lior Yaari (Cofounder and CEO at Grip Security) put it very well: “it boils down to relationships with Michael… I’m always listening carefully for how he interacts, looking to learn from it”. As most know, our teams are not easy graders; this praise is well earned.

And so, Yoav LeitersdorfOfer Schreiber and I are thrilled to congratulate Michael on his promotion to Principal here at YL Ventures. While the impact he has had to our growing organization is palpable, without a doubt there are many more great things to come!

Congratulations, Michael!