Welcome to Wing Three!Gaurav Garg | June 11, 2020
We are pleased to announce that we have raised Wing Three, a $450M Venture Capital Fund dedicated to investing in early-stage companies and partnering long-term with founders building products and services for businesses. Like our prior funds, we are fortunate to have the backing of some of the venture world’s most sophisticated institutional investors. We lead and participate in Seed and Series A financings and engage long-term with our signature company-building skills and resources.
We are kicking off Wing Three at an opportune time for technology powered innovation. The world is in transition from being tech-enabled to technology driven and powered with many industries poised to go through the transformations already seen in Retail, Media, and Advertising. Data has become the new oil, while AI has become the engine that refines it to power the economy, moving us from workflows to automation. The COVID-19 pandemic forced an abrupt global phase change; a different way of being, consuming, working, and interacting with everyone and everything. We will never fully go back. In this confluence of attributes building the modern economy, we are excited to back founders starting and running businesses that enable the “Modern Enterprise.”
The Modern Enterprise
With this fund we will back intrepid founders who have outsized ambitions to shape the next era. We believe this new era belongs to the Modern Enterprise, an agile workplace built on data and powered by AI. Together, interactions of Modern Enterprises will shape the Modern Economy and transform large swathes of GDP and the world we live in every day. That is the power and potential of the companies we seek: the ability to terraform trillion-dollar industries and to power the resulting existential digital transformation forced on incumbents.
These companies are built on data, an essential business asset. Proprietary data defends and extends competitive advantage, and the cloud has enabled this data foundation. Built on top of data troves, the next generation of business applications that will accelerate and improve business processes will be powered by AI. AI-powered applications go beyond automation, helping steer the process in intelligent fashion. The Modern Enterprise will reshape how people do their jobs – the agile workplace. The agile workplace offers smarter models of work that are more effective, flexible and even more fulfilling.
Black Swan Events
Unlike prior economic shocks, COVID-19 will accelerate digital transformation, pulling the Modern Enterprise forward after customers recover from their first reaction to the pandemic. As we adjust to masks, partially filled offices, and reduced travel, businesses will have to simplify, digitize, and automate internal processes, driving tech-powered productivity improvements and automation. Future of work technologies or others that add agility will be rapidly adopted. Some industries will be terraformed by digital native disruptors faster than we saw with travel, telecom, and payments. Those that don’t adapt will become irrelevant, have to be sold, distressed, or go out of business.
Great companies are founded in tough times – when real founders show up, those who can take a punch and come back the next day; investors are risk-averse, engaged in portfolio defense and frozen; fewer companies are born; the distinction between nice-to-have and must-have products is quickly obvious; and in the lower-noise environment, finding people and customers is easier. As we begin investing Wing Three, we enthusiastically welcome real founders building must-have products for the Modern Enterprise.
The Wing Method
We are intellectually curious, hands-on, product-focused investors who delight in envisioning the future by working alongside founders, helping grow their ephemeral and fragile start-ups into lasting enterprises.
We invest before it’s obvious - from company conceptualization, before product touches a customer, up to very early customer adoption when most product market fit questions are still outstanding. Every early stage company naturally goes through the phases of concept development, the genetic engineering associated with early team building, and Product/Market Fit with customers. Part of our process is teaming and brainstorming with founders through the uncertainty, terror, and fog of war permeating their lives – we should know. A majority of our investment team members have founded at least two companies each. And we continue to incubate companies; after a long period of building together, a half-dozen prior incubations by our partners have gone on to become public companies.
We have built a team of Operating Partners to accelerate each of these phases and to help establish iterative learning processes. Our Partner Rajeev Chand, responsible for Research, has created a community of senior decision makers and influencers that help us understand what is around the next few corners. We publish much of this for everyone to see in research notes, market studies, and coaches polls like the Enterprise Tech 30. Our Talent Partner, Sunil Chokshi, formerly of Andreessen Horowitz, has built a network of executives, technologists, and experts entirely focused on business technology. And our Market Development Partner, Didi Dayton, formerly a Head of Sales and Channels at multiple companies, offers a wealth of resources for iterating product-market fit.
Wing at Work
We have added significant talent to our team over the prior (Wing Two) investment period. Our Operating Partners in Rajeev, Sunil and Didi are now fully ramped. With this group, after years of careful building, we are well positioned to extend our leadership in early stage long-term investing in the Modern Enterprise.
Our Partners have delivered a string of notable exits in the last fifteen months - Shape Security (F5), Demisto (Palo Alto Networks), BlueJeans Network (Verizon), Cumulus Networks (Nvidia) and Aporeto (Palo Alto Networks). Widely recognized private companies in the current Wing portfolio include Snowflake, Cohesity and Gong.
Wing Three will invest in about 40 Seed and Series A companies over a new investment period of at least three years. Recognizing that systemic economic shocks force transformation, we have stepped up our investment pace during the lockdown, with several substantial new investment commitments, including the first few in Wing Three.
In closing, we would like to talk about the times we live in. Wing Three was virtually raised over video calls during the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown over video calls, an interesting experience to say the least. As we transitioned from zooming to closing, our psyche turned to a much longer pandemic.
The issues of equal opportunity are deeply personal to all of us at Wing. We are upset, angry, sad, and outraged by the brutal murder of George Floyd and many other black lives. We share in the outpouring on the streets in support of Black Lives Matter, and to protest long-term institutional injustice. While many in our partnership have consistently donated capital and devoted countless hours volunteering, supporting, investing, and promoting a variety of injustice and diversity initiatives going back over a decade, we must do more!
We have reflected on the events of the last few weeks and 2020 as the centenary of Women’s Suffrage. It is our job at Wing to accelerate digital transformation of businesses, and it is our responsibility to accelerate transformation for entrepreneurs from marginalized backgrounds in realizing their dreams. As we kick off Wing Three, we commit to developing the right networks to find these entrepreneurs, and then devoting dedicated time to help them. We acknowledge that we do not have all the answers today, but we will try, evaluate, adjust, and try again until we have achieved meaningful change.
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