News & Views

 

Former Intellectual Ventures exec, Patrick Ennis, joins Madrona

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

Our Investment in Knock

We are excited to announce today our investment in Knock, a company that is building a modern marketing cloud for the multifamily property market. The company was founded by Tom Petry and Demetri Themelis, Seattle natives and University of Washington graduates who moved to New York to work in finance just as the ’08-’09 financial crisis began. They survived and thrived in those turbulent times, and returned to Seattle five years later to start a company together.

Like many founders who start a company to scratch their own itch, Tom and Demetri, who had rented apartments throughout their working lives, saw an opportunity to vastly improve the apartment rental experience. They mapped the customer journey and identified the major pain points; from finding buildings that fit a renter’s needs, to touring available units at these properties, to the leasing process. Their very first product was an Open Table-like booking engine for apartment tours that made it faster and easier for renters to find the perfect apartment.

Also like many founders, Tom and Demetri have taken a non-linear journey to this point. While they began by focusing on the renter experience, they discovered a similar, if not greater, customer pain as they got to know property managers at the buildings they worked with. Property managers lacked the tools to they needed to effectively attract, close and retain tenants; everything from allocating marketing dollars across channels to attract tenant leads, nurturing prospective tenants from tour to lease, and communicating effectively with existing tenants to improve satisfaction and increase the likelihood that they renew.

By focusing on these pain points, Knock grew from a booking widget for prospective tenants to a comprehensive CRM that property management companies can use to manage communication and customer relationships throughout their journey. By listening to customers and deeply understanding the pain points and friction (a behavior we see in all great founding teams), the Knock team has built the best CRM system for multi-family property managers and are just getting started in their ambition to build a comprehensive, modern marketing cloud for the industry.

And this is a very compelling industry in which intelligent applications like Knock are badly needed. There are 18 million multi-family (apartment) units in the U.S., with a vacancy rate of about 5% annually. With average monthly rents pushing $1,400 per month, that 5% vacancy translates to nearly $15 billion in rental income per year that multi-family property managers and owners are leaving on the table. Property managers who want to close that vacancy gap need modern CRM tools to find, sign, and retain the best tenants, and that’s where Knock comes in. There are large, legacy software vendors to this industry who offer CRM as part of a suite, but in most cases, it’s an after-thought bolted onto software born out of a different era.

Knock’s software was designed to be intelligent from the beginning, and while it is still very early in the team’s journey, the quality of their product and their ability to serve customers is reflected in the customer roster Knock has assembled and the thousands of buildings and hundreds of thousands of units they’ve on-boarded to the Knock platform. In particular, the enthusiasm we heard from Knock’s customers for both the product and team really got our attention and got us excited about the opportunity to work together. Knock fits squarely into our intelligent applications investment theme, and we look forward to helping Tom, Demetri and the whole knock team to achieve their vision of building the marketing cloud for multi-family.

POSTED IN: Madrona News

The Future of Retail – a 2019 Investment Theme

This is the fourth and last deep dive into the technology investment themes we outlined earlier this year that we will delve into in 2019 and beyond.

Twenty-five years after the launch of Amazon.com, e-commerce represents about 10% of all retail sales. From zero to ten percent of a multi-trillion dollar sector in just 25 years is astronomical growth, but as convenient as shopping on the internet has become, it’s notable that nine out of ten transactions still take place offline. And yet, as we marvel at the pace of change and innovation in e-commerce over the last two and a half decades, the technological advancements in the physical retail experience are far less notable. In Seattle, we are at the center of much of this change and innovation, and while e-commerce and digital marketplaces remain a core investment theme at Madrona, we see a tidal wave of change coming to the physical retail world, led by technology, and are excited about several trends that will shape the future of physical retail.

“As we marvel at the pace of change and innovation in e-commerce over the last two and a half decades, the technological advancements in the physical retail experience are far less notable.”

Retail Infrastructure as a Service

For digitally native brands that can open an e-commerce store by launching a website or pushing an app to iTunes, opening a retail store feels like a trip to the stone ages. Hiring brokers, committing to long-term leases, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on build-outs and inventory, hiring and training teams, and driving local awareness . . . a lot goes into it.

Indochino, a Madrona portfolio company and digitally native brand that sells custom clothing, now has 40 retail stores in North America. These stores generate a significant portion of the company’s revenue and are its best customer acquisition vehicle. New customers who engage with the brand through Indochino’s retail stores have a better first-time experience – they get fitted for their custom garments by a professional, they can touch and feel the fabrics, and they get guidance and advice to help them make their custom suits, shirts, and khakis truly their own. Indochino’s online business is growing fastest in markets where it has physical retail presence. But as successful as Indochino’s retail strategy has been, the process of finding, securing, and opening new stores is a grind. And opening dedicated stores like Indochino won’t be the right answer for all brands.

“We believe there is an opportunity to create retail ‘infrastructure as a service’ that is loosely analogous to the cloud IaaS we are all familiar with today.”

We believe there is an opportunity to create retail ‘infrastructure as a service’ that is loosely analogous to the cloud IaaS we are all familiar with today. Like their digital counterparts, retail IaaS providers will offer a mix of pure infrastructure, paid for on a usage basis (without long-term commitments), and value-added applications on top of the infrastructure.

For example, when establishing a physical retail presence in a market, a brand will be able to rent a whole retail space, open a shop-in-shop, or lease shelf space next to related brands in a store. The IaaS provider will take care of fixturing, IT, point of sale systems, and other infrastructure necessary to support the brand’s retail business, all built into the monthly price. Brands will be able to staff stores and/or sections with their own dedicated employees (hired and trained by the IaaS platform provider) or can rent partial time from the IaaS’s shared labor.

The platform provider will provide a range of value-added services back to brands (available a la carte), including store and shopper analytics, sales and inventory forecasting returns and exchange management (including for the brands’ online orders), and a host of local promotional services.

As far out there as this might sound, there are already a number of early-stage companies that have launched to address aspects of this opportunity, including Leap, FourPost, Showfields, and b8ta. We are following these companies and keeping our eyes open for new entrants that are meeting the needs of digitally native brands.

Digitizing the In-Store Experience

Nearly every aspect of the in-store retail experience can be improved by technology, whether applied in a clean-sheet (new retail format) context or retro-fitted onto existing retail stores. We are actively looking at and interested in opportunities across a few key areas of the retail experience, including:

  • Frictionless Checkout Nobody likes to stand in line at the end of their shopping experience to pay. The magic of frictionless checkout at Amazon Go, Bingobox in China, and other similar concepts, is pushing retail incumbents to raise the bar on the payments experience in their retail locations. Startups like Zippin, Standard Cognition, AVA Retail and larger companies alike are racing to bring sensor fusion, machine learning, and human-in-the-loop reviews to quickly and accurately identify the items you’ve selected while shopping and automatically charge you for them within minutes of leaving the store. Other approaches to frictionless checkout (e.g., mobile, scanner-driven self-checkout) will get earlier traction in big box retail environments but are less defensible and represent a smaller long-term opportunity.
  • Inventory Awareness and Prediction As retail stores become micro-warehouses and items on store shelves can be picked by the end consumer, by third-party delivery agents, and by the retailer’s own employees (for in-store pickup, online order fulfillment, or delivery), understanding quantity and state of inventory in a store becomes more complicated and more important. Systems have been developed to enable e-commerce fulfillment centers to track real-time location and state of inventory; something similar and yet more sophisticated must be developed for physical retail.
  • Merchandising (compliance) The growth of Amazon’s multi-billion dollar advertising business is a reminder that brands spend massive marketing budgets to convert sell-in to sell-through and deploy a large chunk of these budgets to promotions at retail. Premium shelf placement, endcaps, and other marketing vehicles drive consumer awareness and demand; brands pay for placement, but at the store level, they don’t know whether their products are merchandised appropriately or have sufficient stock on the floor. There are some relatively mature companies addressing this in a manual way and some early-stage companies experimenting with robotics and automation to enable scale and precision. The size of the prize for vendors in this market remains an open question, but the potential value of instrumenting retail stores to provide the real-time visibility we take for granted on the internet is quite large.
  • Customer Analytics The insights we capture about an online shopper (what channel drove them to the site, the products they viewed, the searches they executed, the items they added to cart, etc.) mostly don’t exist in physical retail. This is another category in which sensor fusion and machine learning could bring the offline experience to parity with its online counterpart. While some journalists and analysts have expressed concern about privacy in the context of ubiquitous camera coverage in retail stores, what we can learn about individual customer behavior at retail is already well-understood about those customers online. The frictionless checkout technology providers may be best positioned to provide the customer analytics, but there may also be opportunities for analytics companies to bolt onto the sensor infrastructure to provide deeper insights.

Faster Omni-Channel Delivery

The bright line between digital and physical commerce is blurring in large part due to innovations in supply chain and logistics. As physical retail stores perform double-duty as micro-fulfillment centers, and as Amazon and its scale competitors build ‘forward-deployed’ warehouses in major cities, same- and next-day delivery will be commonplace for orders placed through mobile, voice and in-person interfaces. This will require all omni-channel retail players to leverage technology and infrastructure to enable the near-instant gratification their customers will demand while doing so in a cost-effective manner. Technology areas we are actively tracking and/or pursuing that will be enablers of this future include:

  • Virtual warehouse and fulfillment networks Companies like Flexe and Deliverr are building national networks of 3PLs with an intelligence and orchestration layer on top, enabling brands to store inventory near pockets of demand, enabling fast, cost-effective delivery SLAs that can match Amazon Prime (2-day delivery) in the near-term and same-day as these companies build out their networks and customer density. There are a handful of other companies building out their own 3PL infrastructure (versus serving as an orchestration layer on top), which we believe will enable tighter end-to-end control, but may prove prohibitive to scale.
  • Last-mile (autonomous) robotic delivery At least half a dozen venture-backed companies (marble, nuro, starship technologies, Robby technologies, Dispatch, and unsupervised.ai) are piloting last-mile, robotic delivery solutions with local food and grocery delivery services. Amazon announced its own robotic delivery program, Scout, and both Wal Mart and FedEx are experimenting in this space. With last mile accounting for >50% of total fulfillment cost, mostly derived from fuel and labor, autonomous, ground-based robots could drastically improve the cost-effectiveness of same-day delivery.

“The bright line between digital and physical commerce is blurring in large part due to innovations in supply chain and logistics.”

Clean-Sheet Retail Concepts

In China, we’ve seen a spate of new retail concepts, from Bingobox, the unmanned convenience store, to Hema, Alibaba’s grocery store of the future, to Luckin, the mobile-first, delivery-oriented coffee chain. These concepts, built on top of the payments/messaging platforms of Alibaba and Tencent (and often leveraging their balance sheets), are growing at a pace unheard of in the U.S. They are leveraging many of the technologies discussed above and others to reimagine the retail customer experience.

Why don’t we see a similar pace of innovation and application of technology to reimagine the retail concept in the U.S.? Arguably, Amazon is leading the way with its Go stores (and to an extent the Bookstores and 4-Star); and we have seen some innovation from startups, mostly in the food/restaurant space, leveraging robotics (e.g., Zume Pizza, Spyce). But we have not seen the breadth and pace of retail innovation like we have in China. While capital-intensive, we believe these types of opportunities will exist in a number of retail categories, and we are starting to explore some early concepts with former executives who helped build the current generation of retail giants like Starbucks, Nordstrom, and REI, and who have made Seattle their home.

If you are working on one of these or related areas, and would like to trade thoughts and ideas and enrich the conversation, and/or if you’re looking for a thought and capital partner to help build your business, we’d love to hear from you; especially if you want to build it in Seattle, home to the most innovative online and omni-channel commerce companies in the world.

POSTED IN: Madrona News

HBR: How Will We Prevent AI-Based Forgery?

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

AI2’s Oren Etzioni To Entrepreneurs: It’s Not Too Late To Ride The Machine-learning Wave

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

Hackers Can Slip Invisible Malware Into ‘Bare Metal’ Cloud Computers

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

Act Natural: Next Generation User Interfaces

This is the third in our series of four deep dives into our technology based investing themes – outlined in January. 

Computers, and the ways in which we interact with them, have come a long way. Pre-1984, the only way to navigate a computer was by using a keyboard. Then Apple (with help from Xerox Parc) came along and introduced the world to the mouse. Suddenly, a whole host of activities became possible such as free-form graphical drawing. While this may seem trivial now, at the time it allowed for the new expansion of industries such as graphic design, publishing, and digital media, and the world hasn’t looked back since.

Fast forward to the present: we are seeing an awe-inspiring number of ways that technology is continuing to advance the user interface between humans and computers. Augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality (collectively “extended reality,” or XR), voice, touch screens, haptics, gestures, and computer vision, to name a few, are developing and will change the computing experience as we know it. In addition, they will create new industries and business opportunities in ways that we cannot yet imagine. At Madrona we are inspired by what is possible and ready to provide capital and company-building help for the next generation of computer interaction modalities.

We, along with many others in the industry, were wowed by the magic of VR specifically and dove in early with a couple key investments in platforms – some worked and some didn’t. We quickly came to realize that VR headset adoption wasn’t going to be as fast as initially predicted but we remain strong believers in the ability of all types of next generation user interfaces to change how we experience technology in our lives.

Last month we published our main investment themes, including a summary of our belief in next gen UI. Here is a deep dive into our updated take on the future of both voice and XR technologies.

Voice technology is becoming ubiquitous

Voice tech, more so than any other new UI in recent history, has reached consumers swiftly and relatively easily. While the most common use cases remain fairly basic, voice tech’s affordability, cross-operating system capabilities, and ease-of-use have helped drive adoption. The tech giants are pouring billions into turning their voice platforms and assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri into sophisticated tools designed to become an integral part of our daily lives. Driven by their affordability (the Amazon Echo Dot sells for $30) and ease of use (all you need to do is speak), voice-enabled devices are becoming ubiquitous. Amazon recently reported that 100 million Alexa devices have been sold. Add to that the over 2 billion Apple iOS devices that come pre-loaded with Siri and the almost 1 billion (mostly Android phone) devices that come pre-loaded with Google Assistant, and it is clear that voice technology as a platform has reached unprecedented scale and market penetration in a very short period of time.

Figure 1: Smart speakers are showing the fastest technology adoption in history Source: https://xappmedia.com/consumer-adoption-voice/

The key question now: how will voice become a platform for other businesses? In order for new business models to thrive off of voice technology, we think three things have to happen:

(1) Developers need new tools for creating, managing, testing, analyzing, and personalizing the voice experience
(2) Marketers need new tools for monetization and cross-device and cross-platform brand/content management, and
(3) Businesses need to adapt to a voice-enabled world and enhance their products with voice-enabled intelligence, performance, and productivity.

Similar to the early days of web and mobile, the number of voice applications is growing fast but monetization is nascent and users sometimes struggle with discoverability. For example, Alexa offers over 80,000 “skills” but if you ask most Alexa owners how they use their device, you may notice that use cases remain fairly high-level:

Figure 2: Voice assistants largely used for information & entertainment use cases. Source: https://voicebot.ai/voice-assistant-consumer-adoption-report-2018/

The next generation of voice is multi-modal so instead of using voice-only devices, we are moving toward a great wave of “voice-also” devices. Examples of this include Volkswagen voice recognition to make calls, Walmart.com voice shopping, Roku device voice commands for watching TV, Nest smart thermostat products that use Google Assistant, etc. Tech giants and startups alike are racing to integrate voice into everything, from your car “infotainment” system to your microwave and screen-first devices so they can leverage the ease-of-use of voice to unlock new functionality.

Figure 3: Many companies are springing up to help businesses create, monitor, and monetize voice applications

At Madrona, our investments in Pulse Labs and Saykara give us unique visibility into next gen voice applications and how businesses are looking to reach users with voice services. We believe that voice tech will enable new business models centered around e-commerce and advertising via multi-modal experiences. We see opportunities in creating a tools layer for voice developers and marketers as well as building intelligent vertical applications to solve specific problems. Opportunities exist in enhancing in-vehicle voice capabilities, integration across platforms and applications, home security systems, smart thermostats, and retail experiences that blend the digital and physical, to name a few.

Overall, voice technology is moving very quickly toward broad adoption. With the incredible amount of investment being put into voice technologies, both from the platform providers and from new software developers, we are looking forward to seeing breakthroughs in e-commerce, advertising, and multi-modal experiences. The first hurdle of creating an ecosystem has been cleared with voice-capable devices now in the hands (and homes) of millions of users. The true test will be finding ways to use that technology to solve a broader array of business and consumer problems, and to monetize those capabilities as impact grows.

XR interfaces – still slowly building momentum

XR is a big bet that we believe in long term but our initial estimates of a 3-5-year timeline for when it would hit critical mass (which would have been 2019-2021) were overly optimistic. As we kick off 2019, we have the benefit of time, experience in the market, and a greater appreciation for what it will take for this industry to reach the masses. Our best estimates now push mainstream adoption of ‘premium VR’ (full headset/PC) back another five years to 2024.

Microsoft’s HoloLens, which was released in late 2016, had only sold approx. 50,000 units by mid-2018 before its 100,000-unit deal with the US army was reported in Nov 2018. Hololens 2.0 is slated to be revealed later this month and so we look forward to learning more then. The much-hyped Magic Leap launched a developer product in Aug 2018, but that was not designed as a mass release. In addition, sales of advanced PC-tethered headsets amount to less than 5 million units. Why the slower-than-anticipated uptake? Mass adoption is facing many headwinds on both sides of the marketplace.

On the consumer side: head mounted devices (HMDs) are expensive (around $600 per headset + upwards of $1500 for the high-end PC needed to run the programs). Usability is also a challenge – people are still getting comfortable with the feeling of wearing HMDs for long periods of time. On top of this, there are many additional opportunities for better XR accessories (E.g., the ability to use foot pedals or “cyber shoes,” improved hand controllers, and other devices such as activity or workout aides or equipment) which will improve the immersive experience. On the brand/business side: developing and implementing a worthwhile offering in XR requires more time, resources, and patience than originally thought. In addition, when done right, XR experiences should provide something specific and unique to the business that cannot be achieved otherwise. Finally, XR platforms aren’t standardized yet and so development requires significant customization. Altogether these factors have contributed to the XR market being sub-scale. We ask ourselves now, how many millions of these HMDs need to exist, and what applications or what business verticals will need to be developed, in order for XR technology to become a self-supporting industry?

Most XR innovation to date is entertainment-based, with different approaches for attracting new users. For example, HTC’s Vive has VR rooms where you can watch whales and sea life and there are cross-platform games where you can use lightsabers to slice through oncoming hazards. Against Gravity’s Rec Room is full of communities where you can build your own virtual rooms and worlds.

A trend we’re seeing now, while the XR consumer base slowly builds, is the emergence of virtual worlds or “metaverses” (collective virtual shared spaces that are created by the convergence of virtually-enhanced physical reality and persistent virtual space) that are at first, but may not always be, primarily non-XR virtual experiences (E.g., Xbox, Twitch, mobile, or YouTube). The key here is gaining a mass following while maintaining a “call option” on the ability to allow users to flip over to an XR interface as soon as they are ready. For example, Against Gravity’s Rec Room has quests that are available in both VR and non-VR, and Epic Games’ Fortnite just successfully hosted a record-breaking live, mixed-reality in-game concert with pop DJ Marshmello, the success of which sets the stage for more XR possibilities in the future. Entertainment-based applications like these will be the pathway to mass XR adoption.

Beyond entertainment, there are many practical use cases for XR applications that we are excited about. Our investments in virtual reality startups Pixvana and Pluto help us follow customer needs and market movements, and one that we have been watching closely is the growing opportunity of XR adoption within enterprise and commercial use cases. Of note, we have seen an especially high number of applications in the medical training, retail, education, and field service categories. This is supported by the overall trends as reported by VRRoom, pictured below.

 

Figure 5: Industries of current and prospective XR end-users. Source: https://vrroom.buzz/sites/default/files/xr_industry_survey_results.pdf

XR has the capability to virtually “place shift”/transport the user and enable many compelling applications such as mixed-reality entertainment, medical/surgical training, field service equipment repair and maintenance, spatial design/modeling (E.g., architecture), remote education, experiential travel/events, and public safety activities, to name just a few. Imagine a world where you could shrink and zoom a virtual mockup of a new building with the flick of a finger to help design the HVAC system, you could participate in a Nascar race from the comfort of your living room, or you could literally join your far-flung friends for an “in person” hangout in a virtual living room – this is the power of XR, and it is not far off. The challenge now is to provide greater variety in content, low-cost hardware, and improved usability and comfort to consumers (we’re looking forward to the rumored lightweight ‘glasses’ under development). In addition, we are supportive of the other mediums that XR companies can invest in now (such as mobile, YouTube, PC, etc.) that can provide a bridge to a full premium XR experience in the future.

Together, these next gen user interfaces will feel more natural and make it easier for consumers to access features in a new way

New ‘interaction modes’ like voice, XR, and others will create compelling user experiences that both improve existing experiences and create new ones that previously weren’t possible. We are excited to work with entrepreneurs as they innovate in these new areas. Opportunity for new applications, enabling technologies/devices, and content creation tools/platforms in next gen user interfaces will take us to the future.

POSTED IN: Madrona News

Madrona Continues Hiring Spree with Trilogy Veteran Katie Drucker and Former Avvo CEO Mark Britton

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

Madrona Welcomes Katie Drucker and Mark Britton to the Team

Today, Madrona announced the hiring of technology entrepreneur, investor, and advisor, Katie Drucker, to head the industry and business development relationships and partnerships for Madrona and its portfolio of companies. Relationships, whether they be customer or partner, are crucial for companies at all stages. Recognizing this Madrona has built programs such as an annual CIO summit, CIO briefing days and regular tech meetups that bring enterprises and startups together. Katie will operationalize Madrona’s ability to create strategic relationships that move the needle for portfolio companies as they drive revenue, customer growth, and build market fit.

As the Head of Business Development and Partnerships, Katie brings a global and Seattle-based approach and network to building meaningful relationships with both corporate and governmental organizations looking to be on the cutting edge of technology innovation. Her role will include deepening and expanding of Madrona’s network of senior execs, advising companies on partnership strategies, and building deep customer relationships – all designed to enhance customer and partner engagement programs for Madrona’s portfolio.

Katie brings a career of building partnerships and creating networks at the highest levels as a founder, CEO and COO of technology-based startups in SaaS and cyber security and six years as an investor at Trilogy Equity where she sourced deals, served on boards, and developed strategic relationships. Within this role Katie led deals focused on the mobile industry, helped source and recruit talent, and led investments and follow on rounds for early stage companies. Most recently she was the Managing Partner at Cascade Target Group, a business development and consulting company focused on elevating technology startups to government agencies. Prior to Cascade, Katie was co-founder and CEO at Sigby/Protemo and COO of PolyVerse, where she led fundraising, shipped products, and drove business development and ecosystem creation. She is excited to focus in developing the tech ecosystem that surrounds Madrona and its portfolio companies, driving new opportunities and value for all stakeholders.

Mark Britton joined Madrona in early 2019 as a Strategic Director. As a long-time fixture in the Seattle technology scene for his perseverance and leadership of Avvo, Mark brings a point of view to Madrona built over a career of company building one of the landmark Seattle companies. Starting life as an SEC lawyer, Mark quickly discovered the entrepreneurial bug and founded Avvo in 2006, a marketplace to provide regular people with information and access to legal counsel. The company raised $132 million and was acquired by Internet Brands in January of 2018. Mark left Avvo in April to explore his next steps and we are excited that part of that step is working with Madrona and our portfolio companies.

Strategic Directors are established operators who work with the Madrona team as we evaluate investment thesis and specific companies, while also sharing their incredible wealth of knowledge with Madrona’s portfolio companies. Other recently appointed Strategic Directors at Madrona are Steve Singh, Betsy Sutter, Sujal Patel and John McAdam.

“As Madrona builds our team to support Seattle entrepreneurs we couldn’t be more excited to have Katie and Mark on board. We are excited to have Katie bring her drive and network to play an integral role with all of our companies as they work with us leading up to and after funding. We spend intense time with our companies, focused on adding value to them and their team from day one to the long run through their entire journey and go-to-market know-how and partnerships are incredibly valuable to companies of all sizes,” commented S. Somasegar. “Mark is an insightful leader and we are excited to have him on board to share his knowledge and experience of company building through economic ups and downs with us and with our portfolio companies. Having these two leaders on board illustrates our strong passion and capability to continue to deliver for our founders and companies. Welcome to both of them to the Madrona family.”

POSTED IN: Madrona News

Xnor.ai Debuts Edge AI That Runs on Solar Power

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

Welcoming Polly to the Madrona Family

Today, we are thrilled to announce our Series A investment in Polly, a company we believe is going to significantly impact how enterprises get work done and measure success.  We led this $7 million round and were joined with the existing seed investors Amplify Partners, Fathom Capital, and the Slack Fund.

We have known Samir and Bilal, the co-founders of Polly, since the 2016 Seattle TechStars class, when we had them into our offices to give a practice demo run.  We were excited about them then and have followed the progress as the company has graduated from delivering chatbots into the rich world of enterprise collaboration. Samir and Bilal have built a great team here in Seattle and they are passionate about delivering a quality experience to their customers – these customers, from individual developers to large enterprises are focused on being more successful and understanding their workflows better.  Polly’s success over the last year has been impressive and we are excited that they have decided to partner with us for the journey ahead.

Our investment in Polly follows from our core thesis that, enterprise workflows, for the most part, will move away from legacy systems and email to modern online collaborations platforms like Slack, Teams and Mattermost. While these platforms started their lives as messaging tools, they now have the opportunity to become the “operating system” for modern enterprise workflows. That is already happening. Forward-looking organizations are creating Slack teams whose mandate is to adopt and/or build applications to enable enterprise workflows on Slack.

This is driven by the following.

First, due to technology and societal changes, the nature of engagement between an enterprise and its key constituents (customers, employees and other stakeholders) is becoming more open, bi-directional and frequent.

Second, decision-making in a modern enterprise is becoming far more decentralized. Employees at every level are empowered to directly collect and analyze data in order to make decisions and be far more responsive than it was ever possible before.

Third, as a result, the collaboration tools are where enterprise work happens. We are already seeing early evidence of that with workflows such as IT support, employee on-boarding, site reliability engineering, cyber security operations, etc. moving to Slack/Teams and multiple startups building specific products for each.

As enterprise workflows move to collaboration tools, measuring the effectiveness of those workflows — so that those could be analyzed and further improved — becomes critically important. That is exactly what Polly enables. Polly enables organizations to collect and understand feedback from key constituents so that enterprises can measure and optimize their workflows and thereby, deliver a much better experience.

The early signs have been extremely encouraging! The adoption of the free Polly product, which enables simple surveys within Slack and Teams, has grown consistently over the last couple of years and Polly tripled their user base in 2018. More interestingly, the team has seen incredible ramps in use at large enterprises and the adoption of Polly’s Enterprise product just since launch in in the fall of 2018 has been very strong.  The company already has hundreds of paying enterprise customers with many others in the pipeline. The combination of the rapid organic adoption of the free product, strong inbound demand of its enterprise product and a team passionate about helping their customers, fuels our belief that Polly is poised to become the go to product for modern enterprises.

We are excited and buckled up for the fun ride ahead!

POSTED IN: Madrona News

The Remaking of Enterprise Infrastructure – Investment Themes For Next Generation Cloud

Enterprise infrastructure has been one of the foundational investment themes here at Madrona since the inception of the firm. From the likes of Isilon to Qumulo, Igneous, Tier 3, and to Heptio, Snowflake and Datacoral more recently, we have been fortunate to partner with world-class founders who have reinvented and redefined enterprise infrastructure.

For the past several years, with enterprises rapidly adopting cloud and open source software, we have primarily focused on cloud-native technologies and developer-focused services that have enabled the move to cloud. We invested in categories like containerization, orchestration, and CI/CD that have now considerably matured. Looking ahead, with cloud adoption entering the middle innings but with technologies such as Machine Learning truly coming into play and cloud native innovation continuing at a dizzying pace, we believe that enterprise infrastructure is going to get reinvented yet again. Infrastructure, as we know it today, will look very different in the next decade. It will become much more application-centric, abstracted – maybe even fully automated – with specialized hardware often available to address the needs of next-generation applications.

As we wrote in our recent post describing Madrona’s overall investment themes for 2019, this continued evolution of next-generation cloud infrastructure remains the foundational layer of the innovation stack against which we primarily invest. In this piece, we go deeper into the categories that we see ourselves spending the most time, energy and dollars over the next several years.  While these categories are arranged primarily from a technology trend standpoint (as illustrated in the graphic above), they also align with where we anticipate the greatest customer needs for cost, performance, agility, simplification, usability, and enterprise-ready features.

Management of cloud-native applications across hybrid infrastructure

2018 was undeniably the year of “hybrid cloud.” AWS announced Outposts, Google released GKE On-Prem and Microsoft beefed up Azure Stack (first announced in late 2017). The top cloud providers officially recognized that not every workload will move to the cloud and that the cloud will need to go to those workloads. However, while not all computing will move to public clouds, we firmly believe that all computing will eventually follow a cloud model, offering automation, portability and reliability at scale across public clouds, on-prem and every hybrid variation in between.

In this “hybrid cloud forever” world businesses want more than just the ability to move workloads between environments. They want consistent experiences so that they can develop their applications once and run anywhere with complete visibility, security and reliability — and have a single playbook for all environments.

This leads to opportunities in the following areas:

  • Monitoring and observability: As more and more cloud-native applications are deployed in hybrid environments, enterprises will demand complete monitoring and observability to know exactly how their applications are running.  The key will be to offer a “single pane of glass” (complete with management) across multiple clouds and hybrid environments, thereby building a moat against the “consoles” offered by each public cloud provider. More importantly, the next-generation monitoring tools will need to be intelligent in applying Machine Learning to monitor and detect – potentially even remediate – error conditions for applications running across complex, distributed and diverse infrastructures.
  • SRE for the masses: According to Joe Beda, the co-founder of Heptio, “DevOps is a cultural shift whereby developers are aware of how their applications are run in a production environment and the operations folks are aware and empowered to know how the application works so that they can actively play a part in making the application more reliable.”  The “operations” side of the equation is best exemplified by Google’s highly trained (and compensated) Site Reliability Engineers (SRE’s). As cloud adoption further matures, we believe that other enterprises will begin to embrace the SRE model but will be unable to attract or retain Google SRE level talent. Thus, there will be a need for tools that simplify and automate this role and help enterprise IT teams become Google-like operators with the performance, scalability and availability demanded by enterprise applications.
  • Security, compliance and policy management: Cloud, where enterprises lose total control over the underlying infrastructure, places unique security demands on cloud-native applications. Security ceases to be an afterthought – it now must be designed into applications from the beginning, and applications must be operated with the security posture front and center. This has created a new category of cloud native security companies that are continuing to grow. Current examples include portfolio company, Tigera, which has become the leader in network security for Kubernetes environments, and container security companies like Aqua, StackRox and Twistlock.  In addition, data management and compliance – not just for data at rest but also for data in motion between distributed services and infrastructures – create a major pain point for CIOs and CSOs. Integris addresses the significant associated privacy considerations, partly fueled by GDPR and its clones. The holy grail is to analyze data without compromising privacy. Technologies such as security enclaves and blockchains are also enabling interesting opportunities in this space and we expect to see more.
  • Microservices management and service mesh: With applications increasingly becoming distributed, open source projects such as Istio (Google) and Envoy (Lyft) have emerged to help address the great need to efficiently connect and discover microservices. While Envoy has seen relatively wide adoption, it has acted predominantly as an enabler for other services and businesses such as monitoring and security.  With next-generation applications expected to leverage the best-in-class services, regardless of which cloud/on-prem/hybrid infrastructure they are run on, we see an opportunity to provide a uniform way to connect, secure, manage and discover microservices (run in a hybrid environment).
  • Streams processing: Customers are awash in data and events from across these hybrid environments including data from server logs, network wire data, sensors and IoT devices.  Modern applications need to be able to handle the breadth and volume of data efficiently while delivering new real time capabilities.  The area of streams processing is one of the most important areas of the application stack enabling developers to unlock the value in these sources of data in real time. We see fragmentation in the market across various approaches (Flink, Spark, Storm, Heron, etc.) and an opportunity for convergence. We will continue to watch this area to understand whether a differentiated company could be created.

Abstraction and automation of infrastructure

While containerization and all of the other CNCF projects promised simplification of dev and ops, the reality has turned out to be quite different. In order to develop, deploy and manage a distributed application today, both dev and ops teams need to be experts in a myriad of different tools, all the way from version control, orchestration systems, CI/CD tools, databases, to monitoring, security, etc. The increasingly crowded CNCF roadmap is a good reflection of that growing complexity.  CNCF’s flagship conference, Kubecon, was hosted in Seattle in December and illustrated both the interest in cloud native technologies (attendees grew 8x since 2016 to over 8,000) as well as the need for increased usability, scalability, and help moving from experimentation to production.  As a result, in the next few years, we anticipate that an opposite trend will take effect. We expect infrastructure to become far more “abstracted,” allowing developers to focus on code and letting the “machine” take care of all the nitty gritty of running infrastructure at scale. Specifically, we think opportunities are becoming available in the following areas:

  • Serverless becomes mainstream: For way too long, applications (and thereby developers) have remained captive of the legacy infrastructure stack in which applications were designed to conform to the infrastructure and not the other way around. Serverless, first introduced by AWS Lambda, broke that mold. It allowed developers to run applications without having to worry about infrastructure and to combine their own code with best-in-class services from others. While this has created a different concern for enterprises – applications architected to use Lambda can be difficult to port elsewhere – the benefits of serverless, in particular rapid product experimentation and cost, will compel a significant portion of the cloud workloads to adopt it. We firmly believe that we are at the very beginning of serverless adoption and we expect to see a lot more opportunities in this space to further facilitate serverless apps across infrastructure, similar to Serverless.com (toolkit for building serverless apps on any platform) and IOpipe (monitoring for serverless apps).
  • Infrastructure backend as code: The complexity of building distributed applications often far exceeds the complexity of the app’s core design and wastes valuable development time and budget. For every app,  a developer wants to build, s/he ends up writing the same low-level distributed systems code again and again. We believe that will change and that the distributed systems backend will be automatically created and optimized for each app. Companies like Pulumi and projects like Dark are already great examples of this need.
  • Fully autonomous infrastructure: Automating management of systems has been the holy grail since the advent of enterprise computing. However, with the availability of “infinite” compute (in the cloud), telemetry data, and mature ML/AI technology, we anticipate significant progress towards the vision of fully autonomous infrastructure. Even in the case of cloud services, many complex configuration and management choices need be made to optimize the performance and costs of several infrastructure categories.  These choices range from capacity management in a broad range of workloads to more complex decisions in specific workloads such as databases.  In databases, for example, there has been some very promising research done on applying machine learning to basic configuration all the way to index maintenance. We believe there are exciting capabilities to be built and potentially new companies to be grown in this area.

Specialized infrastructure

Finally, we believe that specialized infrastructure will make a comeback to keep up with the demands of next-general application workloads. We expect to see that in both hardware and software.

  • Specialized hardware: While ML workloads continue to proliferate and general-purpose CPUs (and even GPUs) struggle to keep up, new specialized hardware has arrived from Google’s TPUs to Amazon’s new Inferentia chips in the cloud. Microsoft Azure also now offers FPGA-based acceleration for ML workloads while AWS offers FPGA accelerators that other companies can build upon – a notable example being the FPGA-based genomics acceleration built by Edico Genome. While we are unlikely to invest in a pure hardware company, we do believe that the availability of specialized hardware in the cloud will enable a variety of new investable applications involving rich media, medical imaging, genomic information, etc. that were not possible until recently. 
  • Hardware-optimized software: With ML coming to every edge device – sensors, cameras, cars, robots, etc. – we believe that there is an enormous opportunity to optimize and run models on hardware endpoints with constrained compute, power and/or bandwidth. Xnor.ai, for example, optimizes ML models to run on resource-constrained edge devices.  More broadly, we envision opportunities for software-defined hardware and open source hardware designs (such as RISC-V) that enable hardware to be rapidly configured specifically for various applications.

Open Source Everywhere

For every trend in enterprise infrastructure, we believe that open source will continue to be the predominant delivery and license mechanism.  The associated business model will most likely include a proprietary enterprise product built around an open core, or a hosted service where the provider runs the open source as a service and charges for usage.

Our own yardstick for investing in open source-based companies remains the same. We look for companies based around projects that can make a single developer look like a “hero” by making her/him successful at some important task. We expect the developer mindshare for a given open source project to be reflected in metrics such as Github stars, growth in monthly downloads, etc. A successful business then can be created around that open source project to provide the capabilities that a team of developers and eventually an enterprise would need and pay for.

Conclusion

These categories are the “blueprints” we have in our minds as we look for the next billion-dollar business in the enterprise infrastructure category. Those blueprints, however, are by no means exhaustive. The best founders always surprise us by their ability to look ahead and predict where the world is going, before anyone else does. So, while this post describes some of the infrastructure themes we are interested in at Madrona, we are not exclusively thesis-driven.  We are primarily founder driven; but we also believe that having a thoughtful point of view about the trends driving the industry – while being humble, curious and open-minded about opportunities we have not thought as deeply about – will enable us to partner with and help the next generation of successful entrepreneurs.  So, if you have further thoughts on these themes, or especially are thinking about building a new company in any of these areas, please reach out to us!

Current or previous Madrona Venture Group portfolio companies mentioned in this blog post: Datacoral, Heptio, Igneous, Integris, IOpipe, Isilon, Pulumi, Qumulo, Snowflake, Tier 3, Tigera and Xnor.ai

POSTED IN: Madrona News

Echodyne Seeks Thumbs-up From FCC For Super Bowl Test of Drone-detecting Radar

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

Pro.com Lands Redfin As An Investor And Potential Partner In $33M Round

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

New Positions and Faces at Madrona

From left to right: Troy Cichos, Jennifer Chambers, Tasha Tieu, Ted Kummert. January 2019.

Recognizing the achievements of employees and the expanding footprint of the firm, Madrona today announced a set of changes to the core team that administers and operates the day to day business of the firm.  Additionally, the firm expanded Venture Partner Ted Kummert’s role to include Chief Product Officer in Residence.

Also announced today that Hope Cochran became Managing Director.

In the administrative team, Troy Cichos was promoted to COO and Partner, and Jennifer Chambers was promoted to Administrative Partner. The firm also welcomes a new Controller, Tasha Tieu.

Running a venture firm with nearly $1.6 billion under management is no small feat.  With five active funds, a staff of 35 including a value-add team and a full administrative assistant cohort, Madrona’s administrative team has taken on bigger and bigger roles over the past several years.

Troy Cichos joined Madrona in 1999 and was most recently Administrative Partner and CFO.  Over the past twenty years, Troy has provided the firm with exemplary guidance as the firm has consistently raised funds, invested in companies, expanded in staff, facilities and founded new entities such as Madrona Venture Labs and Create33.  As COO, Troy manages all legal, HR, IR, Tax/Audit for the firm and for Madrona’s venture funds.  He manages the team of value-add staff and back office administrators and advises Madrona’s companies on financial management, tax, and legal issues.  His role encompasses all operations of the firm.

“Troy brings a unique mix of subject-matter expertise, operational excellence, great people skills, and a love for Madrona and all our constituents.  His leadership and counsel is indispensable to our firm and portfolio companies in areas from structuring deal documents, advising on tax strategy, consulting on leases and real estate questions, working with our investors, and providing leadership for all our firm’s operations.  Troy always brings his A game and is a constant positive presence in the office and with all the important partners we work with to help our companies and support the Seattle ecosystem,”  Tim Porter, Managing Director.

Jennifer Chambers joined Madrona in 1997 and as Administrative Partner works on both fund and Madrona office management.  During her time at Madrona, she built and scaled the back office to accommodate the growth of Madrona’s funds, portfolio, team and facilities.  As part of the value-add team she assists Madrona portfolio companies with the decisions and vendors they need to successfully set up their own back office – everything from choosing a benefits provider to finding office space.    She works with Madrona’s investors as part of the fund management, both distributing and calling capital as needed in the life of a fund and planning and managing the content of our quarterly and annual meetings.  Additionally, she manages a team of administrative assistants and Madrona facilities. Jennifer’s prior title was Fund Administrator.

“Jennifer has been a crucial piece to the success of Madrona.  There are very few if any aspects of Madrona that Jennifer does not regularly influence and she sets the tone for Madrona’s culture with her contagious positive attitude,” Paul Goodrich, Managing Director.

Tasha Tieu joined Madrona in late 2018 as a controller focused on accounting, tax and audit functions for both Madrona and Madrona’s venture funds.  She comes to Madrona from four years working in audit with technology and retail clients at EY.  Tasha holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Master’s in Professional Accounting from the University of Washington Michael G. Foster Business School. Tasha is also a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Washington.

Venture Partner Ted Kummert is excited to expand his role to Chief Product Officer in Residence.  In this role, he works deeply with Madrona’s growing startups who are facing product, business or engineering challenges that require some hands on, in the trenches work.

Building on his over two decades at Microsoft leading the development of several of that company’s core enterprise products, Ted also spent four years at then Madrona portfolio company, Apptio, leading the transformation and creation of SaaS solutions for enterprise and federal CIOs and CFOs based on the company’s core platform.  Apptio went public during his tenure and was recently acquired by Vista Equity Partners for ~$2billion.

Ted applies this and his years of management experience to work closely and, for extended periods of time, with engineering and management teams of Madrona portfolio companies in the early and growth stages to help navigate some of the difficult decisions they face as their business, product offerings and organizations grow and scale.  Continuing to serve as a Venture Partner as well, Ted will also work on identifying, vetting and making new investments.

Kristina Bergman, Founder and CEO of Integris Software commented, “Ted has been an invaluable partner for our management and engineering team as we help companies comply with new data privacy laws, such as GDPR and CCPA – map data, apply policies, and automate remediation. Building for enterprises, especially in a heavily regulated area is a complex task and Ted’s years of experience helped us execute and build a highly scalable distributed solution for Data Privacy Automation that is being adopted by global brands to protect their most important assets.”

POSTED IN: Madrona News

My Next Role – Managing Director at Madrona

Hope Cochran and Amy Nelson, Founder and CEO of The Riveter. March 2018.

I am so honored and excited to be expanding my role with the Madrona team. I have long admired Madrona, not only for their sustained excellence in investing in local NW companies, but for their well-earned reputation for doing so with intellectual rigor, hard-work and integrity. And when I joined the firm as a Venture Partner two years ago, I found that the Madrona reputation is built through careful attention to the needs of entrepreneurs. That is why I am proud to be deepening my relationship with Madrona as a Managing Director. It marks the beginning of a new professional adventure, one in which I plan to lean heavily upon my own experiences as an entrepreneur and CFO as I work directly with our companies.

People, first and foremost, will continue to be my overriding focus. Having been a founder and executive in both small and large companies, I understand what it’s like to create business plans, navigate tricky financings and launch new products and services; but as I reflect upon my own successes and failures in business, what is most impactful is the quality of the people within each venture. I understand the importance of surrounding yourself with talented and driven personalities who are comfortable in periods of tumultuous change, who keep calm and focused in times of crisis or extreme growth. The stresses and strains of being an entrepreneur can be very challenging day-to-day, but the rewards are worth the challenges. The most important of which has been the life-long relationships I have with the people from my previous companies, relationships that have been forged from periods of intense joy, frustration, success and failure. I’m looking forward to investing in NW entrepreneurs who are eager and ready for a similar ride. So as I develop my investment thesis while at Madrona, it will always start, and stop, with identifying great people and teams regardless of industry or technology. In my opinion, successful teams and leaders are the most important factor in any venture.

So what am I looking for in new ventures besides great entrepreneurs? I will obviously rely heavily on my past experiences. I have worked in several technology-based industries during my career as an entrepreneur and executive—ERP, B2B software (PeopleSoft/Oracle), telecom and wireless (Clearwire/Sprint) and most recently, video games (King Digital/Activision). In addition, I am on the Board and Audit committees for a diverse set of public companies  – MongoDB, Hasbro and New Relic. All these experiences and roles will inform my analysis as I add to the Madrona portfolio with new investments. As I have led companies through period of rapid change, there have been several areas that always seem to need attention and improvement.

When a company grows quickly, processes often break under the strain. Having been an executive at companies that experience very rapid growth, I understand and appreciate that the systems and processes required to build a sustainable company must be flexible, scalable and easy to roll-out. Therefore, I am interested in cloud-based B2B systems and software that enable companies to be more nimble as they manage their internal and external processes. Legacy solutions that are inflexible and hard-to-upgrade just don’t work anymore. Furthermore, there is a great need for ML/AI and robotic automation processing to improve various internal processes within organizations. Every department within an organization, from tasks as varied as financial forecasting to determining efficient locations for holding inventory, can be improved with thoughtful application of technology.

In the role of CFO, you often realize that your best forecast, or most consistently produced dashboard is only as good as the data that sits below it (customer, inventory, financial, sales, etc.). How many times was I proud of my finance team’s ability to produce metrics, only to realize that the data behind it wasn’t being stored or sorted accurately?!  Today, a company needs to be able to make instant decisions, based on trends and patterns they read in real time. The ease and speed of access, the cleanliness, consistency, analysis and protection of underlying corporate data is crucial.

Finally, CFOs ultimately deal with the money, so this is an area where I have my own bumps and bruises from first-hand experience. Banks come to you with promises of ease of use, the ability to quickly move money, invest it wisely, low fees, etc.  But all CFOs know, this is an area of great frustration.  It often comes with multiple fees, low yields and difficulty in managing across multiple institutions and regions. On a consumer level the problem is only magnified and often misunderstood by the individual user. There are a lot of burgeoning Fintech companies out there tackling many of these problems, but there is much to be done. As you watch the flow of funds from the point of a consumer or a business, it is astonishing how much margin is taken at each juncture – whether it be fees, the days lost in the movement, currency exchanges, credit card processing, etc.  I love the innovation that is happening in this space – both at the level of large scale corporate clients to the individual consumer and look forward to finding and supporting companies that are diving into this challenge

It can’t be ignored that I am a woman executive and investor in a largely male world. I have loved my career but at times I have had to fight for it. It is a joy and passion of mine to support women to thrive in all ranks of a corporation. It is not an issue of not enough female talent in the workforce. I hear that counter-argument all the time and I am amazed that some believe this to be true – have they met the women I know?!

Businesses today can and are starting the journey to recognize the untapped talent they have in their diverse workforce. It needs intentionality. In my experience, it is not going to happen by being passive. I applaud companies and other organizations that are taking intentional steps to address equality in all areas of a company.  And, I am a staunch believer that businesses today should be active in addressing equality of opportunity throughout their organizations, from boardroom and C suite and at every level and department.

Madrona has been a leader in working for greater equality at our companies. Over the past two years, I have led Madrona’s participation and support of OnBoarding Women, with our partners at Deloitte, Perkins Coie and Spencer Stuart. OnBoarding Women is focused on creating more opportunities for women to serve on corporate boards in the Pacific Northwest. At Madrona, we recognize that the disparity in the public company boardroom often starts when the company is private and the board is primarily investors – often not a very diverse group. By opening up independent seats early in a company’s journey, the company has the opportunity to diversify the perspective at a crucial point in the company lifecycle, ideally with a woman or otherwise diverse candidate.  One of my fellow managing directors has had 5 of the last 6 independent director appointments on his portfolio company boards be women.

As I embark on the next phase of my career, I am so honored to be part of the Madrona team.  My most important asset as a professional is my reputation. A reputation is shaped by the people with whom you surround yourself. I couldn’t ask to be surrounded by a more fantastic group than the entire Madrona team.

POSTED IN: Madrona News

Madrona Appoints Hope Cochran Managing Director

Madrona Managing Directors, from left to right: Tom Alberg, S. Somasegar, Scott Jacobson, Matt McIlwain, Tim Porter, Hope Cochran, Len Jordan (missing from photo: Paul Goodrich). January 2019.

We are excited to announce today that Hope Cochran is our newest Managing Director.  We have worked with Hope in her role as a venture partner at Madrona over the last two years and have known her for many more.  In the time she has been a Venture Partner at Madrona, Hope has worked with dozens of our companies on business strategies, financial planning and operational effectiveness.  Hope has built her extensive experience over twenty-five years as a founder of her own successful company, as a CFO at both Clearwire and King Digital, as an executive taking companies public and then selling them for billions to strategic buyers, and as a senior leader who brought teams together to achieve a goal. Her clarity of approach and expertise in not only how to financially organize a company, but in how to lead one, has been invaluable to our entrepreneurs and founders.

As a Managing Director, Hope shares the responsibility of investing Madrona’s newest $300 million Fund VII in early stage companies that we believe will change the future of Seattle and the global technology industry.  When we shared the news of Hope’s new role with our mutual, long-time friend John Stanton, he commented that “I worked closely with Hope for five years at Clearwire.  In a very challenging environment, Hope was a consistent and calm leader with clear vision.  Hope managed the complexity of Clearwire’s financial position and was vital in every strategic decision.  Hope’s experience in managing people and leading a business will make her an extremely valuable Managing Director at Madrona.”

Hope brings both a bold and practical approach to working with companies.  She has already been of invaluable help to the whole innovation ecosystem by leading our annual CFO Summit to address everything from broad themes of leadership and to details of audit rules.  In fact, before Hope worked at Madrona, she shared her experience of taking King Digital from 0-60 and onto the public markets at one of our CFO conferences.  She has helped portfolio companies of all sizes including later stage Madrona’s portfolio companies like Smartsheet and Rover on their growth and IPO planning, and some of our youngest companies like Gawkbox and Integris through the building and scaling of teams and processes.  Her ability to scale up or down and understand the operational challenges of the entrepreneur, is what they value.   She is a trusted member of our team and a sought-after voice of counsel.

Hope helped source and led Madrona’s seed investment in the Riveter, the female forward work space and community with five locations thatwill be expanding to more locations this year.  Since our initial seed investment, the Riveter has already raised a substantial follow-on upround financing bringing its total capital raised to $20 million.  She has also led our involvement in the OnBoarding Women program, which focuses on bringing executive women onto public and private company boards through business-oriented education.  For several years now, Madrona companies have been more intentional about recruiting female candidates as independent board members and our work with OBW is invaluable to these candidates and these companies.

To Madrona she has brought her deep operational experience and also her depth of experience serving on public company boards, including New Relic, MongoDB and Hasbro.  It is clear that she is a leader in our region, and we are thrilled to have her focused on uncovering the next great companies being built in Seattle.

We also want to celebrate that Hope is Madrona’s first woman Managing Director.  As investors, we seek to attract the best entrepreneurs and the best company-building team that are eager to roll up their sleeves to help companies when they need us. Having an investment team that is diverse in terms of experience, expertise, company background, gender, age, culture, and points of view enables us to build better companies faster.   We are excited to have Hope on board and look forward to years of investing and working with companies from day one for the long run including all the key decision moments along the journey.

For Hope’s take click here.

POSTED IN: Madrona News

Tigera Raises $30M Series B For Its Kubernetes Security And Compliance Platform

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

The Riveter, A Female-centric Coworking Startup, Raises $20 Million

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News

Eclypsium Raises $8.75M Series A Round Led By Madrona Venture Group To Tackle Hardware Security

POSTED IN: Portfolio Company News