With the start of the new decade, I started life as a venture capitalist – with Madrona Venture Group. A venture firm that has steadfastly invested in entrepreneurs and businesses from Day One for the Long Run.
I have been an entrepreneur for the majority of my career. Being an entrepreneur spoke to my need to build, to be in charge of my own destiny, to create opportunity where none existed before, and to work with amazing people from all corners of our wonderful world. Building a business comes with all the emotional ups and downs you would imagine. But it was always exhilarating – every single day.
Being a venture capitalist speaks to those same needs – through the next generation of entrepreneurs. It affords an opportunity to pay forward guidance and wisdom others were kind enough to share with me. It is an opportunity to help others avoid the thousands of mistakes I made as an entrepreneur. It is an opportunity to help others build great companies. Companies that can provide tens of thousands of jobs, be the foundation of deeply satisfying friendships and careers, that create wealth, and that can improve the trajectory of life for hundreds of thousands of people.
It affords an opportunity to help amazing entrepreneurs build the next layer of our shared economic foundation.
Madrona, like any great venture capital firm, invests in amazing people. It may be when a brilliant entrepreneur like Kabir Shahani, the CEO of Amperity, is looking for a partner on Day One, or when we meet an extraordinary entrepreneur like Andy Byrne, the CEO of Clari, who is scaling his business 100% year over year.
Our investments are against a core set of themes that we see as the major drivers of the next phase of computing.
I am particularly passionate about one of those themes – Intelligent Applications. Over the past few years and the next few, we will see the formation of the next generation of enterprise application companies. Over the subsequent decade those companies will replace legacy companies like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce and WorkDay. It will happen for a simple reason. It will happen because applications will become, well, intelligent. As ML/AI become integrated into every element of the application stack, applications will learn on a real-time basis and start to take action on our behalf. As applications and data become integrated on a real-time basis, new economic models will emerge. We are already starting to see that in enterprise financial applications.
It will not be a straight line from here to there. Our philosophy of being there for our entrepreneurs from Day 1 for the Long Run will continue to be our guide.
This much I know. It is going to be exhilarating – every single day.
(Also appeared on LinkedIn)