AppDirect Is Hiring After Closing a $50 Million Financing

Earlier this year, we took part in a $50 million Series D investment round in AppDirect. Headquartered in San Francisco, AppDirect makes it easy for businesses to find, buy, manage, and monitor cloud services from a central location. They also give providers and developers an easy way to distribute, sell, and market cloud services.

That last part is particularly interesting from our perspective. Many of our portfolio companies are those types of cloud services and the ecosystems that AppDirect powers can help them get to market faster, reach more users, and drive more revenue.

That might seem counterintuitive, since everybody knows where to find apps, right? Well, not always, and the process of managing multiple cloud services can be a mess. AppDirect takes all of that complexity, such as purchasing, billing, and provisioning, and makes it straightforward for each player in the ecosystem.

It’s radical simplicity at its finest and it’s one reason why we have been big supporters of AppDirect and the team going back to 2013. We first met the founders of AppDirect – Daniel Saks and Nicolas Desmarais – when they acquired Standing Cloud, a Boulder-based portfolio company of ours. A few months after the acquisition, they raised a Series C round led by Mithril which we participated in.

AppDirect’s innovative technology leads the industry, and the company’s values – humility, true north, intensity, ownership, and positive mental attitude – have helped shape a unique culture which continues to drive the company’s success.

AppDirect is growing like crazy and they plan to open more offices, in Silicon Valley and around the world, in the coming months. If you are interested in working in the emerging cloud service commerce market, check out the available AppDirect jobs.

Waking Up On The Other Side Of The World

Amy and I are spending the week in Dubai together. Today was our first day here and it reminded me of a great quote by Cayce Pollard in William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.

“Jet lag is your soul catching up with you.”

That perfectly describes today. So, I’ll leave you with a bird’s eye view of Dubai starting from the Burj Khalifa, which is pretty epic at multiple levels.

Know Thyself

I recently did a 10 minute video interview with Clint Bowers of VOLSTA. I like to do about one a month with someone I’ve never heard of before for two reasons: (1) to help them out with their content / business and (2) to learn from the questions that are on their mind and the words that come out of their mouth. I never prepare or look at the questions in advance – it’s all extemporaneous.

I always watch them after they come out, not for ego-gratification reasons (I have much more efficient ways to gratify my ego) but because I’m always trying to learn from what I said, especially if the questions came from a new and interesting direction.

I particularly liked the Clint’s interview. We covered the most important lesson I’ve learned in business, my biggest failure, perspective on my #GiveFirst mantra, and the importance of knowing yourself.

The First Real Intersection of Music and Virtual Reality

In 1995 I made a seed investment in a tiny company called Harmonix founded by two guys, Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy. After one meeting with them I knew I wanted to be part of their journey and made one of my early $25,000 angel investments.

The journey they went on as founders and a company was amazing. A big part of it was captured in what I think is one of the best long form magazine articles ever about the history and drama of building a company – Just Play in Inc. Magazine in 2008.

After being acquired by Viacom in 2007, Alex and Eran bought back the company in 2010. Over the past two decades they’ve created two billion dollar game franchises – Guitar Hero and Rock Band – and one multi-hundred million game franchise – Dance Central.

I joined the board and Foundry Group invested in Harmonix in 2012. The last few years have been complex and challenging as the classical video game business continues to go through massive structural changes. However, the Harmonix team has kept a steady beat of innovation going, including a recent release of Disney Fantasia and a reincarnation of one of my favorite early games of theirs, Amplitude.

But the stuff they are doing that I’m really excited about fall into two categories: (1) Rock Band 4 (which needs no explanation) and (2) Music VR.

This morning, Matt Whittaker wrote a really smart article titled Harmonix’s Music VR Might Just Bring on the Apocalypse. In it he talks about the amazingness of what Harmonix is doing and the broader societal challenge around VR and a compelling mainstream app like music.

First, the Harmonix Music VR stuff is unreal. If there is a company on the planet that can figure out the compelling music experience for VR, it’s Harmonix. And, they are working on scalable stuff – not “music specific things” – but algorithms that adopt to any music you are playing. This is technology they’ve had for several years and is part of what sets them apart from everyone else who has followed them by trying to mix video games and music since they came out with the original Guitar Hero software.

Next, while VR video games are cool, they aren’t mainstream. But music is mainstream. So the opportunity for VR in music, and music being a leading use case for VR, is enormous.

Did I say that the Harmonix Music VR stuff is unreal? Oh yeah, I did. And when I say “unreal”, I mean in an amazing way.

If you want or read science fiction, you see music + video as a central background component of everything. Sometimes it’s plot, sometimes it’s context, but it’s always there as part of the VR theme. Today’s technology is still young, but the software will outpace the hardware, as it usually does, which means that amazing software will drive users to adopt hardware early and then will push the vector of innovation on the hardware.

I’m super proud that I know and get to work with Alex, Eran, and team and have been able to over two decades. They never cease to amaze me.

Apple and Women in Information Technology

There was plenty of Apple news yesterday, but the one that lit me up was the announcement that Apple is partnering with the National Center for Women and Information Technology  to help create a broader pipeline of female technology workers.

I’ve been chair of NCWIT since 2006 and have worked closely with Lucy Sanders, the founder and CEO. I’ve learned an amazing amount from her, and NCWIT, about the dynamics around women in information, the challenges we collectively face as an industry, and how to impact it.

While we’ve raised money from lots of different organizations, Apple’s give of about $10 million over four years is the largest corporate gift we’ve received to date. The relationship that Apple and NCWIT have developed over the years is a wonderful example of a large technology organization getting the issue, engaging with it, learning how to impact it, and putting its money where its mouth is.

NCWIT’s goal with this specific funding from Apple is to double the number of four-year-degree recipients supported by NCWIT’s internships, scholarships and other resources, and to reach 10,000 middle school girls over the next few years.

Apple – thank you for your leadership in this area.

Oh – and one more thing. Here’s a photo of this year’s NCWIT Aspirations in Computing award winners. These young women are the future.

NCWIT Aspirations Award