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Harnessing our Network’s Collective Intelligence: Sapphire Unveils Centers of Excellence to Help Portfolio Companies Scale
June 22, 2021
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Sapphire Ventures partners with visionary teams building companies of consequence. We invest capital, resources and expertise in category defining startups, and a key part of the value we deliver to our portfolio is our Portfolio Growth platform. Launched in 2014, the team is made up of experienced operators who play a crucial role in helping our portfolio companies land new customers, hire exceptional talent and ultimately, scale. 

Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re building upon Portfolio Growth’s success by expanding the platform and introducing dedicated Centers of Excellence (CoEs). Over the years, we’ve built a powerful network of CIOs, CXOs and corporate buyers, as well as executive talent. We’re now leveraging this collective intelligence to bring to our portfolio companies the following CoEs:

These CoEs will deliver best practices to specific personas such as the CRO, CFO, CTO and engineering leadership. They will serve as a hub for each practice area, becoming the go-to-destination for useful content, playbooks, workshops and peer-to-peer connections, ultimately providing incremental value to our portfolio.

“Our partnership with Sapphire is strategically important to Dremio. Their team deeply understands the enterprise technology space, and as such, they’re a tremendous help in getting us access to customers, introducing us to key executive talent and offering insights that come straight from corporate decision makers. I’m looking forward to leveraging Sapphire’s new Centers of Excellence to help continue our aggressive scale and growth trajectory.”

–Billy Bosworth, CEO, Dremio 

The next evolution of Portfolio Growth is here

When we launched Sapphire’s Portfolio Growth platform, the first thing we heard from our portfolio companies was customers, customers, customers! Early on, that was our singular focus. As we responded to our portfolio needs we developed what we believe to be the widest network amongst VCs of enterprise CIOs and CXOs, with the team making 400+ customer and partner introductions annually.* To add, Sapphire’s annual CIO Summit has become the preeminent industry conference convening hundreds of enterprise CIOs, startup CEOs and VCs. While these are impressive metrics, we don’t measure ourselves against number of introductions and events. Instead, we prioritize bottom-line impact, which is why much of the work we do results in significant deals for our portfolio. 

As Portfolio Growth hit its stride with our customer and partner network, winning the war for talent emerged as another area of need for our portfolio. Many of our portfolio companies needed help strategizing on how to take their executive ranks to the next level, so we expanded Portfolio Growth by adding the Talent Network, which is dedicated to helping CEOs find and hire the right executive talent to grow their businesses. Like our customer and partner network team, the Talent Network is well-connected, making more than 350 talent introductions annually and driving impactful results for our portfolio. **

We’re now in our next evolution of Portfolio Growth where we’re seeing our portfolio companies hungry for insights and information to help them build and grow. We’ve identified a clear need to understand and establish best practices within key operating areas of their business. That’s why we’ve been developing benchmarks and useful content for some time now, and are proud to officially unveil the following CoEs:

  • Sales and GTM: Helping CROs and revenue leaders leverage new sales channels to drive revenue, offering insights on GTM trends and applications, and granting access to a network of similar portfolio companies. Example: The Startup’s Guide to Cloud Marketplaces.
  • International Expansion: Arming businesses with the tools they need to break into new global markets, this CoE caters to c-level executives, and will lean on our visibility over global business operations to provide practical advice to expanding businesses. Example: European Expansion Playbook.
  • CXO and Corporate Buyers: Building on our robust CIO network, this CoE provides data, research and advisory insights into how CIO and CXO enterprise decision-makers evaluate new and emerging technologies. Amongst many things, this CoE annually benchmarks data on CIO and buyer trends. Example: CIO Innovation Index.  
  • Capital Markets: Everything a CFO or CEO needs to know to navigate capital markets, including venture debt, private financing and acquisitions, as well as IPOs and M&As. Example: The Road to IPO or M&A: Best Practices for Planning an Exit Strategy.
  • Infrastructure and DevOps: To the product leaders within our portfolio, this CoE offers practical guidance on scaling technology and infrastructure alongside business growth—without sacrificing agility and innovation.
  • Emerging Manager Investors: As part of Sapphire Partners, this CoE is for VC investors launching or scaling a fund. It provides insights and best practices from the collective experience of the #OpenLP network and the Sapphire Partners team on topics such as fundraising, fund structure and governance, ESG and diversity, portfolio construction and LP communications.

“As ActivTrak works hard to stay one step ahead, understanding the latest trends from enterprise buyers, as well as fellow startup CEOs, is invaluable to us. We’ve already seen enormous value from the Portfolio Growth team facilitating partnership and commercial introductions, providing insight on go-to-market strategy and helping with our talent needs. I’m a big supporter of Sapphire’s new Centers of Excellence. My team can’t wait to dive into some of the content, peer-to-peer networks and best practices the CoEs have to offer.”

–Rita Selvaggi, CEO, ActivTrak

Uniquely positioned to deliver services that matter most

Operational playbooks for execution in enterprise technology evolve on a near-monthly basis. While it’s what makes our industry dynamic, it’s challenging for portfolio executives to keep up with emerging trends. That’s why we consider it our job to cut through the noise and highlight best practices for our portfolio companies based on what our network is saying. 

Sapphire is uniquely positioned to offer the most up-to-date perspectives and best practices for three key reasons:

  1. Sapphire has +deep expertise in enterprise technology stemming from our history. Since becoming an independent VC firm a decade ago, we’ve invested in more than 120 companies and have experienced over 60 exits.
  2. We’re constantly meeting with Global 2000 CIOs, CXOs and decision-makers, so we know what’s top-of-mind to them. We know what they look for when choosing to work with emerging technologies, and are able to capture those insights and translate them into actionable playbooks, workshops and content.
  3. We have a network of about 4,500 industry practitioners in our Talent Network who we regularly interact with. Their cumulative knowledge informs our engagements with our portfolio and helps us produce content on topics most relevant to talent professionals.
The right time to offer more

In early 2020, when it was unclear how the pandemic would impact businesses and the economy, our portfolio companies relied on our years of expertise and network to guide them through. We paused all of our typical activities and focused our energy on meeting with our companies, offering guidance and sharing playbooks developed for and during the pandemic. We also provided open access to industry experts and peer-to-peer virtual events to help our portfolio navigate the uncertainty. 

The experience reinforced for us that our portfolio companies and their leaders can benefit from tapping into the aggregated wisdom of our network and operational know-how of their peers, investors and industry thought leaders. The impact the pandemic had on our portfolio companies acted as an accelerator of the Portfolio Growth platform’s natural progression. Now that we’re past the worst of COVID, this is the perfect time to introduce these new CoEs to support our portfolio. 

With the launch of our CoEs, we’re further getting in the trenches with our entrepreneurs to help them grow their companies. By building a comprehensive, trusted resource, these new CoEs are our everyday commitment to supporting our portfolio companies along their journey, and we’re excited to see how they will help build tomorrow’s companies of consequence.


Legal disclaimer


*Figure represents number of introductions made annually by Sapphire between portfolio companies and Global 2000 executives on average since 2019 (2) Figure represents number of talent introductions made annually by Sapphire between talent executives to portfolio companies on average since 2019 (3) figure represents the count of portfolio companies that have had an exit (IPO or M&A) since firm’s inception in 2011 to May 2021.

**Nothing presented herein is intended to constitute investment advice, and under no circumstances should any information provided herein be used or considered as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any investment fund managed by Sapphire Ventures. Sapphire Ventures does not solicit or make its services available to the public. Information provided herein reflects Sapphire Ventures views as of May 31, 2021. Such views are subject to change without notice.

Due to various risks and uncertainties, actual events, results or the actual experience may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated statements above.Various statements made by third party guests about Sapphire relate to the nature and type of management services provided by Sapphire and do not constitute testimonials to Sapphires’ investment advisory services and no inference to the contrary should be made. Sapphire does not solicit or make its services available to the public and none of the funds are currently open to new investors.  The investments identified and discussed herein do not represent all of the investments made or recommended by Sapphire Ventures and may not be representative of any current or future investments. A complete alphabetical list of Sapphire’s investments made by its direct growth investing funds is available here. The performance of these investments is not necessarily indicative of the performance of all investments made or recommended by Sapphire Ventures. It should not be assumed that any future investments will be profitable or will equal the performance of the companies identified herein. No guarantee of investment performance is being provided and no inference to the contrary should be made. Past performance is not indicative of future results.