Meet the Forces Behind Krux, the Most Recent Addition to Our Sapphire Ventures Family

Today, Sapphire announced our investment in Krux, a cloud-based people data management company. Krux helps publishers and advertisers manage and monetize consumer data via a differentiated platform that delivers flexibility, scalability, security and efficiency. While I’m very excited about the company’s market opportunity, I’m even more thrilled about the opportunity to work with Tom Chavez, CEO and co-founder of Krux, and the rest of his team on transforming Krux’s vision into reality.

At Sapphire, we place significant emphasis on the entrepreneurs and management teams when evaluating investment opportunities. At the end of the day, one of the most significant drivers of a company’s success is the quality of its team, and we are intent on working with people that we both like and believe will succeed.

I first reached out to Tom and Krux based on a lead from Nicholas Cumins, an executive at one of our portfolio companies, OpenX. Over one of our regular strategy sessions, Nicholas, who leads product at OpenX and previously held a leadership role at SAP AG, mentioned Krux and how publishers were raving about its innovative platform. This piqued my interest, and soon enough my colleague, Rajeev Dham, and I were on the phone with Tom.

Tom impressed us from the get-go. During our introductory call, Tom inquired thoughtfully and thoroughly about Sapphires’ strategy and investment philosophy, as well as our interest and expertise in his domain. We shared our thesis on building a next-generation “B-C CRM” system—an ambition that resonated with Tom and led us to quickly arrange an in-person follow-up meeting.

Only after I put the phone down, did I actually realize that Tom had screened Sapphire more than the other way around. And he didn’t stop there. By the time we met he had already reached out to several common acquaintances for reference checks, and luckily we passed those tests too. Clearly, Tom was committed to finding the right partner to share and realize his vision.

As we continued to get to know Tom professionally, we also began discovering more about the remarkable human being that he is and the experiences that have shaped him into the leader he is today.

Born as one of five children into a lower-middle-class family in New Mexico, Tom is a man from humble roots. Tom’s parents didn’t attend college, and his mother, Rose, was the first of nine siblings to finish high school. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, Tom’s parents were deeply committed to education, so much so that their perseverance eventually paved the way for their children – all five – to attend Harvard University. While Tom and his siblings made do with cramped living space and limited sustenance growing up, their parents worked exceptionally hard to send them to private schools, pay for music lessons and ensure that each of their children was intellectually enriched from an early age.

Tom will be the first to point out that all the credit of this extraordinary family history goes to his mother, and he seems to have inherited her drive and passion for education. Outside of his work at Krux, Tom dedicates significant time and serves as the board chair of Meritus, a San Francisco non-profit that helps low-income students enter and complete a four-year college degree.

Tom’s tireless devotion to others distinguishes him as a leader and is likely one of the many factors that inspired the loyalty of those that surround him in the workplace. In Tom’s case, this comes first and foremost in the form of Vivek Vaidya, CTO and co-founder of Krux. Tom and Vivek previously worked together at Rapt, Inc., which was sold to Microsoft a decade after its founding. While Tom combines execution and vision, Vivek possesses the uncanny ability to both articulate and implement complex technology. We were thoroughly impressed with how Tom and Vivek architected a sophisticated and effective solution and how far they came in such a short period of time. Moreover, the fact that numerous employees followed Tom and Vivek from Rapt to Krux reinforced our confidence in them as leaders and solidified our interest in working together.

Beyond Tom and Vivek, we met with a number of key members of Krux’s broader team, which only further convinced us that they would build something special. Through our interactions with David Ron (CFO), Matt Kilmartin (CRO), Roopak Gupta (Applications), Jos Boumans (Operations) and others just as valuable, we became increasingly amazed by the tremendous traction the team had rapidly gained from both a product development and a customer standpoint with a relatively small employee-base.

With Tom and Vivek at the helm of a world-class team, Krux is well-positioned to become a disruptive industry leader. We are very excited to contribute to their success going forward!

Special thanks to Rajeev Dham, my colleague at Sapphire, for his significant contributions throughout the investment process.