One of our beliefs at Mayfield is that we provide mentor capital, not just venture capital. I first met serial entrepreneur Ankur Singla, founder of Volterra which debuts today, in 2012. He was raising his Series A for Contrail Systems, a software-defined networking company, and we began brainstorming about their product and go-to-market strategy. He tells me that our discussion was critical as it became the backdrop of his thinking as to where to focus the company, especially after the VMware acquisition of Nicira and the battle of enterprise private cloud networking between Cisco and VMware. As a result of our chat, he pivoted the company to the service provider market, side stepping the war between two giants. Contrail went on to be acquired by Juniper Networks later in 2012.
In 2017, when Ankur began thinking about his next chapter, we sat down to discuss areas where disruptions could potentially happen in the post-centralized cloud world. We saw the need for distributed clouds, especially in use cases for companies with distributed locations in retail, healthcare, financial services, telecom, IoT and manufacturing. We led the $20 million Series A in 2017. As a people-first investor, we believe in partnering with bold entrepreneurs who will take us on an interesting journey in their quest to build big companies. However, when you get involved with a company at an early stage, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and serve as an extended member of the founding team. Some examples of that with Volterra include scenario planning for product definition, different insertion points into potential market segments, helping them hire great people to their team, and serving as a sounding board as they added a French company, which brought a global, secure network that has become the backbone of their distributed cloud offering.
As Ankur points out “Most startups are not a straight line and all good things evolve with time — the greatest asset of any company is the brainpower of its team, including its investors who have pattern recognition and an outside-in view.”
Volterra debuts its distributed cloud platform today with $50 million in funding from Mayfield, Khosla Ventures, M12 (Microsoft’s venture fund), and strategic investors Samsung and Itochu Technology Ventures. They have built a comprehensive platform for distributed cloud services, hired over 100 experts, and are already serving over 30 customers. Their timing is perfect as the trend of moving beyond the centralized cloud has gone mainstream. Distributed cloud was just named as one of the top 10 strategic tech trends of 2020 by Gartner: https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhigh/2019/10/21/breaking-gartner-announces-top-10-strategic-technology-trends-for-2020/#6b54c0844074
We believe that Volterra will grow into one of the big companies of the new infrastructure era, and are looking forward to the next chapter with Ankur and his world-class team.
Originally published on LinkedIn.