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Madrona’s 25+1 years – Building Companies From Day One For The Long Run

August 5, 2021

This month is the 26th (25+1) anniversary of Madrona’s founding which presents a timely opportunity to look back at the past and reflect on our firm’s journey but also to look forward to the future and contemplate what lies ahead for the broader innovation ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest.

One  question we frequently ask ourselves is, what’s not going to change in the next 10 or even 25 years? For us, the core answers are rolling up our sleeves from Day One, helping entrepreneurs in an authentic way, and taking a long-term view to build lasting companies. But, it is not just WHAT we and others do to help our companies, but HOW we do it that matters.

We in the Pacific Northwest have built a special innovation ecosystem over the past 25+ years.  The Madrona team is committed to expanding that “Bigger Pie” of innovation to positively impact an ever-expanding group of founders, customers, employees, investors and community members.  Living our values every day is an important part of our advantage and approach to long-term success. We believe in the importance of curiosity, the power of integrity, being accountable to each other, and striving for excellence in all we do.

These past eighteen months produced unprecedented challenges – but every hardship can either be a stepping stone or a stumbling block on the road ahead.  We believe the world is going to become more “digital first” in how we solve problems and get things done.  We also believe that it won’t be enough to “automate” a business process, but that these processes will become intelligent applications that help people leverage their unique talents and potential in more productive ways. With this digital acceleration, we have experienced massive growth in e-commerce, telehealth, and many other hybrid experiences that will have a profoundly positive impact across sectors for years to come.

While virtual meetings allowed us to all stay safe, a day full of video calls has its own shortcomings. Meaningful relationships can and have been built over Zoom and Teams.  But we do not underestimate the power of sitting around a kitchen or restaurant table with someone to discuss hard topics and share a meal and a laugh. It’s those casual conversations that are so crucial to building the lasting relationships and trust that fuel both the venture world and our own lives.  So, while we will increasingly be a “digital first” society, we hope to sustain the increased appreciation for freedom, community and hope for a better world that are core elements of what makes us human.

The business of startups is not smooth and we have had our share of successful companies, alongside those that didn’t succeed over the past 26 years.  Notable companies, whose founders we were fortunate to partner with from Day One (generally), include  Amazon, Isilon, Redfin, Smartsheet, Snowflake, Rover and Apptio. And, while they are harder lessons to learn, we have also grown from the times where our advice and efforts did not produce successful outcomes.  We are big believers in a “Learning Loop” mindset and have no doubt there is so much to improve upon and accelerate learnings for the companies and ecosystem around us in the years ahead.

Late in 2020, we raised $500 million in two funds to continue investing in Day One companies here in our region and mid-stage companies building in the technology (cloud, applied AI, e-commerce) and business model trends (“land and expand”, SAAS, consumption-based pricing) that were often invented in Seattle.  Tomorrow’s success stories will be born out of the successes and the challenges we have learned from in the past. Over 26 years we have learned, and last year reinforced,  just how important community is for all of us.

Thank you to the many people in our community who have helped build an ecosystem that can truly benefit all people. And, thanks to all of you who have supported us throughout our journey. We are excited about pioneering, learning, and innovating together for many years and decades to come.

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