Feb 9, 2023 - Economy & Business

Communicator Spotlight: Shannon Brayton, Bessemer Venture Partners' CMO

Photo illustration of CMO of Bessemer Venture Partners Shannon Brayton next to the company logo and various shapes

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of Bessemer Venture Partners

Shannon Brayton has introduced the world to such iconic tech brands as Yahoo, eBay, Open Table and LinkedIn.

Why it matters: Now she's building, promoting and protecting brands at scale as chief marketing officer of Bessemer Venture Partners, a venture capital firm supporting tech, enterprise, consumer and health care startups.

Zoom in: She spends about 40% of her time supporting portfolio companies and 60% supporting and promoting Bessemer.

πŸ“ˆ Trend spot: Brayton has been paying close attention to the convergence of marketing and communications.

  • "Years ago, PR was seen as taking a reporter to a three-martini lunch to get a story placed, while a marketing person was an ad buyer who flew down to Chile to supervise the filming of [a commercial with] a car flying over the Andes Mountains," she says. "Because of social media, everything is so integrated now β€” it's all part of the brand.
  • "I was the head of communications at LinkedIn for five years before taking on the chief marketing officer job. I was one of the first comms people to do that because [former LinkedIn CEO] Jeff Weiner realized early on that it was all becoming one big, amalgamated brand story.
  • "And it's a trend that's still happening β€” communicators are rising to take on bigger jobs."

✍🏼 De-stress routine: Strength training three times a week, plus creating (and completing) to-do lists.

  • "I am a total list maker," Brayton told Axios. "When I feel stressed, I have a notebook where I write down every task I need to complete β€” both in the long and short term.
  • "That really helps me calm down, because it allows me to get a sense of what absolutely needs to get done. ... I have two teenagers and two dogs. There's constantly stuff swirling, and if I don't put everything on paper, I start to feel panic."

🧩 Daily routine: Brayton does the New York Times crossword puzzle every day.

  • ⏱ Her record? "I've completed the mini in 13 seconds, the Monday crossword in 3 minutes and one second, and my Sunday best is 19 minutes and 49 seconds."

πŸ—ž Two news sources to take to a deserted island: The New York Times and The Daily Mail.

πŸ“±Favorite social platform: Instagram for interior design inspiration, comedic relief and workout tips, and life updates or news from LinkedIn.

πŸ”Ž When hiring, Brayton looks for both agency experience and big brand experience.

🧠 Best advice: Take risks.

  • "I think a lot of women question themselves and talk themselves out of things. I did that with the CMO job at LinkedIn. ... I told Jeff Weiner like 50 different reasons why I didn't think I was ready for the job. A man would never do that.
  • "When you're offered an opportunity, don't talk yourself out of it. Don't give in to imposter syndrome. Take the risk and prove to yourself that you can do it."

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