News & Views

 

Saykara Raises $5M As Its AI Voice Assistant Cuts Time Doctors Spend On Paperwork By 70%

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Domicile Raises $5 Million To Build Out Rental Site For Corporate Housing

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Future of Sports Collectibles? Player Tokens Brings Together Blockchain And Baseball Cards

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Technology Fuels Growth At Accolade Health Venture, 3 Years After Concur Founders Took Helm

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The Riveter Plans To Open A Coworking Office In Bellevue

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MLBPA And Player Tokens Team Up On A New Baseball Collectible

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Meet M87, A Startup Pitching Distributed Wireless Tech For IoT

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Welcome Elisa La Cava

We are thrilled to introduce the newest member of our investment team, Elisa La Cava, who has joined Madrona as Senior Associate. We are fortunate to meet many, many impressive associate candidates, but Elisa really stood out with her mix of start-up, strategy consulting, and venture capital experiences. Elisa is going to be spending her time sourcing innovative companies, evaluating new investment opportunities, working with entrepreneurs across the portfolio, and broadly getting involved in the Pacific NW start-up ecosystem.

Elisa joins us after having completed her MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg school in June. While in business school, she had an impactful internship at MATH Venture Partners conducting due diligence, portfolio analysis, and attending partner meetings each week. She also had a deep dive in M&A with an internship in the very active AT&T Corporate Development group. Prior to b-school, Elisa worked at Deloitte Consulting in Seattle where she worked with technology and life sciences companies. She was also involved in developing Deloitte’s first Diversity and Inclusion go-to-market strategy, as well as leading an international pro-bono consulting program for non-profits in Latin America.

Elisa has also been part of an early stage start-up and lived the various issues facing founders from the inside as an early employee at Seattle biofuel manufacturer General Biodiesel.

Elisa grew up in Woodinville and is happy to return to the PNW. We are excited for her to bring her large local network and passion for the region to bear engaging with founders across the region.

Elisa commented: “During business school, I had my first experience working in venture capital and instantly loved it because I could help innovative companies reach their full potential. From the moment I started meeting the team at Madrona, I knew that this was the place I wanted to do this longer-term. Madrona has a world-class team and the resources to help startups not only gain instant traction in today’s market, but also position themselves to adapt and scale as markets change. I am also passionate about the growth of the community here in Seattle, specifically, because it is my hometown. I am beyond excited to be back in Seattle and at Madrona, and am ready to dive in and help support the next wave of world-changing founders and startups.”

I’m sure you will see Elisa at a local startup event sometime soon. Hopefully you will have a chance to meet her and experience her drive and enthusiasm firsthand. I do caution challenging her to a tennis match, however, as she played four years and was captain of Claremont McKenna’s tennis team. While leading the tennis team, she also managed to dual major in Economics and Spanish.

Welcome Elisa!

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Our Investment in Kush Parikh and Player Tokens

I am pleased to announce Madrona’s seed investment in Player Tokens Inc. (PTI) and our partnership with Kush Parikh, the founder and CEO. Kush joined Madrona as an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) in late 2017 and explored several ideas with the Madrona team, including a nascent category called crypto-collectibles. Player Tokens is launching today.

There have been a number of interesting crypto-collectible projects … this Medium post by CryptoKitties, one of the pioneers of the space, does a nice job covering both the definition of crypto-collectibles and some of the earliest experiments. This post is another good 101.

As Kush and we explored the world of crypto-collectibles together, a few things really stood out. First, there is an opportunity to bring together the digital and physical worlds (something my partner Matt lovingly describes as DiPhy) to create an entirely new and compelling collectible experience, powered by blockchain. Second, this intersection of worlds is particularly powerful in professional sports, where fans have the opportunity to encounter and interact with their favorite athletes, at games, on television, and through social media. Third, the crypto-collectible experience as it exists is entirely too complicated for the typical pro sports fan and collector.

These observations and a compelling vision for ways that crypto-collectibles could be the entry point to a whole slew of digital and physical fan experiences is what prompted Kush to found Player Tokens at Madrona, and for us to begin this journey together. Step one on the journey … talking to fans and collectors. Having lived in epic sports towns like Seattle and Chicago, we’ve had no shortage of conversations with sports fans and collectors who are interested in modern ways to buy, sell, and trade, authentic, rare collectibles for their favorite players. Through Madrona’s partnership with the OneTeam Collective, we’ve also had the opportunity to connect with the players, associations, teams and leagues, all of whom are excited about the future of crypto-collectibles and the opportunities they will enable in the professional sports world.

A mix of product vision from Kush and team, and feedback from fans, collectors and athletes alike, have shaped the initial version of Player Tokens launching today, as well as the long-term roadmap for PTI. We are excited to be working with Evan Kaplan and team at the Major League Baseball Players Association, who represent the Major League players, as our first business partner in this journey; we look forward to building great things together for fans and professional athletes across the globe.

Special thanks to our friends Ahmad Nassar, Ricky Medina, Casey Schwab and team at NFL Players Inc. / OneTeam Collective, who have been great thought partners and connectors for PTI at this early stage in the life of the company and the category.

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An Inside Look At Create33, The New ‘Founder Center’ From Madrona Designed To Spark Seattle Entrepreneurs

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Network Monitoring Giant Gigamon Acquires Seattle Security Startup ICEBRG

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Integris Raises $10M To Help Companies Meet GDPR And Other Security Compliance Mandates

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Wicket Labs Raises More Cash To Build Out Audience Insight Platform For Online Video Providers

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Eventbase Raises $6.5M For Mobile Event Technology Platform Used By IBM, Microsoft, Cisco

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The Road to Cloud Nirvana: The Madrona Venture Group’s View on Serverless

S. Somasegar – Managing Director, Madrona Venture Group

The progression over the last 20 years from on-premise servers, to virtualization, to containerization, to microservices, to event-driven functions and now to serverless computing is allowing software development to become more and more abstracted from the underlying hardware and infrastructure. The combination of serverless computing, microservices, event-driven functions and containers truly form a distributed computing environment that enables developers to build and deploy at-scale distributed applications and services. This abstraction between applications and hardware allows companies and developers to focus on their applications and customers—not worrying about scaling, managing, and operating servers or runtimes.

In today’s cloud world, more and more companies are moving towards serverless products like AWS Lambda to run application backends, respond to voice and chatbot requests, and process streaming data because of the benefits of scaling, availability, cost, and most importantly, the ability to innovate faster because developers no longer need to manage servers. We believe that microservices and serverless functions will form the fabric of the intelligent applications of the future. The massive movement towards containers has validated the market demand for hardware abstraction and the ability to “write once, run anywhere,” and serverless computing is the next stage of this evolution.

Madrona’s Serverless Investing Thesis

Dan Li – Principal, Madrona Venture Group

Today, developers can use products like AWS Lambda, S3, and API Gateway in conjunction with services like Algorithmia, to assemble the right data sources, machine learning models, and business logic to quickly build prototypes and production-ready intelligent applications in a matter of hours. As more companies move towards this mode of application development, we expect to see a massive amount of innovation around AI and machine learning, application of AI to vertically-focused applications, and new applications for IOT devices driven by the ability for companies to build products faster than ever.

For all the above-mentioned reasons, Madrona has made several investments in companies building tools for microservices and serverless computing in the last year and we are continuing to look for opportunities in this space as the cloud infrastructure continues to evolve rapidly.Nevertheless, with the move towards containerization and serverless functions, it can be much harder to monitor application performance, debug applications, and ensure that applications have the correct security and policy settings. For example, SPIFFE (Secure Production Identity Framework for Everyone) provides some great context for the kinds of identity and trust-related work that needs to happen for people to be able to build, share, and consume micro-services in a safe and secure manner.

Below, you’ll hear from three of the startups in our portfolio and how they are building tools to enable developers and enterprises to adopt serverless approaches, or leveraging serverless technologies to innovate faster and better serve their customers.

Portfolio Company Use Cases

Algorithmia Logo

Algorithmia empowers every developer and company to deploy, manage, and share their AI/ML model portfolio with ease. Algorithmia began as the solution to co-founders Kenny Daniel and Diego Oppenheimer’s frustrations at how inaccessible AI/ML algorithms were. Kenny was tired of seeing his algorithms stuck in an unused portion of academia and Diego was tired of recreating algorithms he knew already existed for his work at Microsoft.

Kenny and Diego created Algorithmia as an open marketplace for algorithms in 2013 and today it services over 60,000 developers. From the beginning, Algorithmia has relied on serverless microservices, and this has allowed the company to quickly expand its offerings to include hosting AI/ML models and full enterprise AI Layer services.

AI/ML models are optimally deployed as serverless microservices, which allows them to quickly and effectively scale to handle any influx of data and usage. This is also the most cost-efficient method for consumers who only have to pay for the compute time they use. This empowers data scientists to consume and contribute algorithms at will. Every algorithm committed to the Algorithmia Marketplace is named, tagged, cataloged, and searchable by use case, keyword, or title. This has enabled Algorithmia to become an AWS Lambda Code Library Partner.

In addition to the Algorithm Marketplace, Algorithmia uses the serverless AI Layer to power two additional services: Hosting AI/ML Models and Enterprise Services where they work with government agencies, financial institutions, big pharma, and retail. The AI layer is cloud, stack, and language agnostic. It serves as a data connector, pulling data from any cloud or on-premises server. Developers can input their algorithms in any language (Python, Java, Scala, NodeJS, Rust, Ruby, and R), and a universal REST API will be automatically generated. This allows any consumer to call and chain algorithms in any combination of languages. Operating under a Kubernetes-orchestrated Docker system allows Algorithmia’s services to operate with the highest degree of efficiency.

As companies add AI/ML capabilities across their organizations, they have the opportunity to escape the complications that come with a monolithic application and begin to implement a serverless microservice architecture. Algorithmia provides the expertise and infrastructure to help them be successful.

Pulumi Logo

Pulumisaw an opportunity in 2017 to fundamentally reimagine how developers build and manage modern cloud systems, thanks in large part to the rise in serverless computing intersecting with advances in containers and managed cloud infrastructure in production. By using programming languages and tools that developers are already familiar with, rather than obscure DSLs and less capable, home-grown templating solutions, Pulumi’s customers are able to focus on application development and business logic rather than infrastructure.

As an example, one of Pulumi’s Enterprise customers was able to move from a dedicated team of DevOps Engineers to a combined Engineering organization—reducing their cloud infrastructure scripts to 1/100th the size in a language the entire team already knew and empowering their developers – and is now substantially more productive than ever before in building and continuously deploying new capabilities. The resulting system uses the best of what the modern cloud has to offer—dozens of AWS Lambdas for event-driven tasks, replacing a costly and complex queuing system, several containers that can run in either ECS or Kubernetes, and several managed AWS services like Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Elasticsearch Service, and Amazon ElastiCache—and now runs at a fraction of the cost before migrating to Pulumi. They have been able to spin up entirely new environments in minutes where it used to take weeks.

Before the recent culmination of serverless, containers, and hosted cloud infrastructure, such an approach simply would not have been possible. In fact, we at Pulumi believe that the real magic is in these approaches living in harmony with one another. Each has its own strengths: containers are great for complex stateful systems, often taking existing codebases and moving them to the cloud; serverless functions are perfect for ultra-low-cost event- and API-oriented systems; and hosted infrastructure lets you focus on your application-specific requirements, instead of reinventing the wheel by manually hosting something that your cloud provider can do better and cheaper. Arguably, each is “serverless” in its own way because infrastructure and servers fade into the background. This disruptive sea change has enabled Pulumi to build a single platform and management suite that fully realizes this entire spectrum of technologies.

The future is bright for serverless- and container-oriented cloud architectures, and Pulumi is excited to be right at the center of it helping customers to realize the incredible benefits.

IOpipe co-founders Erica Windisch and Adam Johnson went from virtualizing servers at companies like Docker, to going “all in” on serverless in 2016. Erica and Adam identified serverless as the next revolution in infrastructure, coming roughly 10 years after the launch of AWS EC2. With a shift in computing moving towards a serverless world, there are new challenges that emerge. From dozens of production Lambda user interviews, Erica and Adam identified that one of the major challenges in adopting serverless was a lack of visibility and instrumentation. In 2016, Erica and Adam co-founded IOpipe to focus on helping companies build, ship, and run serverless applications, faster.

IOpipe is an application operations platform built for serverless architectures running AWS Lambda. Through the collection of high fidelity telemetry within Lambda invocations, users can quickly correlate important data points to discover anomalies and identify issues. IOpipe is a cloud-based SaaS offering that offers tracing, profiling, metrics, logs, alerting, and debugging tools to power up operations and development teams.

IOpipe enables developers to debug code faster by providing real-time visibility into their functions as they develop them. Developers can dig deep into what’s really happening under the hood with tools such as profiling and tracing. Once they’re in production, IOpipe then provides a rich set of observability tools to help bubble up issues before they affect end-users. IOpipe saw customers who previously spent days debugging tough issues in production now able to find the root cause in minutes using IOpipe.

Since launching the IOpipe service in Q3 of 2017, the company has seen customers ranging from SaaS startups to large enterprises enabling their developers to build and ship Lambda functions into production at an incredibly rapid pace. What previously took one customer 18 months can now be done in just two months.

IOpipe works closely with AWS as an advanced tier partner, enabling AWS customers to embrace serverless architectures with power-tools such as IOpipe.

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Serverless Computing Could Unleash A New Startup Ecosystem

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Venture Capitalists ‘Love’ Microsoft’s Buy Of GitHub, Call It A ‘Super Smart’ Move To Win Developers And Compete Against AWS

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David vs. Goliath In The Cloud: Do Investors See An Opening For Startups To Take On AWS And Azure?

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Commercial IoT Provider Rigado Raises $15M To Roll Out ‘Edge-As-A-Service’ Tech

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Why Madrona Invested in Pulumi

Today I am very excited to announce our investment in Pulumi.

Pulumi aims to fundamentally improve the way people build, manage, and interact with cloud-native applications, services, and infrastructure.

There is a massive movement to the cloud among enterprise customers around the world. As that trend continues to gather and gain momentum, new and transformative techniques are required as customers truly begin to take advantage of cloud-native capabilities. This transformation grows leaps and bounds with serverless computing starting to emerge as the next frontier to enable truly distributed applications and services that are powered by microservices and event-driven functions.

Recent cloud infrastructure breakthroughs include serverless, containers and hosted cloud infrastructure. Containers are great for complex stateful systems, often taking existing codebases and moving them to the cloud. Serverless functions are perfect for ultra-low-cost event- and API-oriented systems. Hosted infrastructure lets you focus on your application-specific requirements, instead of reinventing the wheel by manually hosting something that your cloud provider can do better and cheaper. Arguably, each is “serverless” in its own way because infrastructure and servers fade into the background.

“This disruptive sea change is enabling Pulumi to deliver a single platform and tools suite that allow developers to build and ship code to the cloud in the easiest and fastest way.”

 

Eric Rudder, Joe Duffy and Luke Hoban are a world-class team to deliver such transformative experiences in a cloud-native world. They have decades of experience in platforms, tools, and programming models. Eric Rudder was one of the most senior executives at Microsoft, including running the $10B+ Server and Tools business, serving as a Technical Advisor to Bill Gates, and most recently as the EVP for Advanced Technology before leaving Microsoft. Joe Duffy was a senior technical engineering leader at Microsoft and was a critical part of the early team that built .NET and C#. Most recently, he was Director of Engineering and Developer Tools Strategy and, in that role, was instrumental in open sourcing .NET and taking it cross-platform to Linux and Mac. Luke has held a variety of product and engineering roles at Amazon and Microsoft. While at Microsoft, Luke co-founded TypeScript and developed Go support for Visual Studio Code.

I have had the privilege and the fortune to have worked with Eric, Joe and Luke closely over the years, and their passion to solve hard problems for developers and enterprise customers is unparalleled. I am personally very excited for the opportunity to work with this very talented group of people. We are confident that this kind of a world-class team is what is going to help drive a breakthrough as cloud-native becomes fundamental to enterprise software today and in the future.

We are doubly excited to partner with Pulumi given it is a Seattle-based early-stage start-up focused on native-cloud environment with a world-class founding team.

Please join me in welcoming Eric, Joe, Luke and the Pulumi team to the Madrona family!

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