By Rajeev Dham, Partner, Sapphire Ventures and Todd Olson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pendo
I’m thrilled to announce that Sapphire Ventures is leading the Series D financing for Pendo, an incredibly exciting SaaS business re-defining the product and user experience software category. I’m happy to welcome Todd Olson, CEO of Pendo, to the Sapphire family and to share his views here on why he decided to partner with Sapphire. But first, let me tell you my partners and I decided to Spendo on Pendo!
Why Partner with Pendo?
At its core, Pendo provides a product cloud platform that improves users’ experience with digital services. As I spend a good portion of my time searching for the next big SaaS business, I’ve come to the realization that the largest and most sustainable differentiator from one application to the next isn’t necessarily based on technical complexity. Rather, the ability for end-users, folks like me and you, to achieve rapid time-to-value and experience ongoing satisfaction with the product is paramount.
Pendo is the enabler behind this broader trend as they allow folks in product, UI/UX, customer support and success organizations to understand user behavior within their digital services and iterate on product features and flows, but also inform smart in-app communication as a result of the deep analytics they are collecting. They smartly combine visibility via analytics with action via communication — a combination that dozens of customers were thrilled by. The next product and experience cloud platform is in the making!
As we at Sapphire seek to partner with “companies of consequence,” the team ends up being one of, if not the, most critical driver. Let’s begin with Todd. I first met Todd in mid-2016 and despite Pendo being early for our stage focus back then, I came away incredibly excited about what he was building and his product-driven approach to the business. That said, given any company at this stage, execution risk was still meaningful. Fast forward 2+ years and, admittedly much to my pleasant surprise, Todd had nailed the plan he had laid out for me way back then. Execution — check!
That said, execution without leadership can only get you so far. More impressive than Todd’s ability to execute, is his ability to lead, proven by the management team he’s been able to attract, many of whom were hired only in the last two years — Bill Binch (CRO), Jennifer Kaelin (CFO), Jake Sorofman (CMO) and many others. Bottom line — Pendo’s team, led by Todd and his co-founders Erik Troan, Rahul Jain, and Eric Boduch, is one of the strongest I’ve seen. The intangibles are what create something special and Pendo’s got it!
Ultimately, however, venture capital investing isn’t as formulaic as I or others may make it sound. Investment decisions are often influenced by the relationship, the human connection between entrepreneur and investor given we’re in this together for the long haul. To that end, Todd’s unique combination of being incredibly down-to-earth yet fiercely competitive with an unrelenting desire to win deeply resonated with me and my partners and will make for a great partnership!
Why Partner with Sapphire Ventures?
If I had two words to describe Rajeev, they’d be enthusiastic and persistent. As he mentioned above, we met two years ago during our Series B fundraise and while he didn’t invest then, he stayed in nearly constant contact. Almost like clockwork, he’d ping me each quarter and my response was always the same: We’re not fundraising; we’re focused on execution. When I finally agreed to re-engage this summer, Rajeev came prepared with insights from nearly two dozen customer conversations. Moreover, his comments and takeaways showed a level understanding about the nuance of our product and business that impressed me.
Raising four rounds of venture funding has taught me that it’s not about the money — it’s about the people. You can get money from anywhere. The people affect your company (and life) far more. We’re fortunate to have investors that help us close customers, recruit great people, and push us to realize our full potential. We’re betting that Rajeev brings the same level of tenacity to company-building as he demonstrated during the fundraising process. We’re on a mission to transform how software is created and delivered, and we can always use more advocates willing to roll up their sleeves and unwilling to accept “no” as an answer.
Even more unique in my due diligence is their Portfolio Growth team, which is dedicated to helping their companies successfully scale. The Sapphire Portfolio Growth platform regularly leverage their global CXO network to make valuable introductions to customers, partners and executive talent. We’re also excited to be speaking at their annual CIO Summit in October, which will help us elevate the Pendo message to a powerful group of Global 2000 CIOs, Silicon Valley CEOs and industry thought leaders. Through all of my reference calls and interactions, it was clear that Sapphire’s Portfolio Growth team is more than just talk — they are all about impact and outcomes.
Our Pendo Partnership
We are thrilled to welcome Todd and Pendo to the Sapphire family and can’t wait for the journey ahead!