For The Accel And Sequoia Veterans Behind New Firm Wing VC, Old School Enterprise Is Still CoolAugust 4, 2014
Amid the food delivery apps and dating sites hatching around Silicon Valley, there's a new venture firm that couldn't be a worse fit, by choice. Founded by two veterans of Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital with sixteen IPOs to their portfolios, Wing VC's only an upstart by technicality. By its founders' track records and its early investments, Wing is old school. But to build a legacy like the ones they left at their former firms, Gaurav Garg and Peter Wagner need to find some fresh magic for its limited partners.
Garg and Wagner have had their hands in some of the big enterprise exits of the recent years like FireEye, Nimble Storage and Ruckus Wireless, bets that took years to grow to maturity. Now they've been running their own firm, Wing, for a year. The two investors have been busy: Wing has made four core investments and six seed deals from its $160 million 'Wing One' fund. Its partners also invested in 18 companies from a 'Wing Zero' prototype, two of which have been acquired.
Wing focuses on leading or co-leading Series A deals at $2 or $3 million for companies still developing a product, and $8 or $10 million for companies ready to go to market. The company's also doing seed rounds, but favoring smaller ones with smaller investor groups.
And all of that investing is happening within a focus on business markets, enterprise companies focused on data, mobile and cloud. Wagner says the pair share about a half dozen core theses on how those three areas of innovation will transform large IT companies, from their applications to their security. Wing's partners then seek to bring their personal networks to bear in helping with recruiting and customer acquisition. "We just look for two or three areas where we can uniquely help," Wagner says. "A wing is a simple and elegant machine, and a supportive one, too. That's what we want to be."
At one of Wagner's Accel investments, Blue Jeans Network, cofounder and CEO Krish Ramakrishnan says he appreciates that Garg and Wagner are looking to provide focused help in the critical first year after a startup takes institutional money. "That's when a very knowledgeable investor can make the huge difference with connecting you and hiring the right people. That's where somebody working with you side by side plays a greater role." Ramakrishnan says. "
Ramakrishnan's seen the value of both sides--he was actually recruited to an Accel portfolio company by Wagner while at Cisco, and then joined Accel as an entrepreneur in residence. When Wagner left Accel, the firm kept its board seat, but Ramakrishnan got board approval to make an independent seat open for Wagner to stay on. Each serves a different purpose, the founder says. "This is my third company, and I still found it extremely valuable to get the type of attention you don't get at a big firm."
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