My Next Chapter

The team, circa 2014, when we were acquired by Salesforce

All early stage companies start as incredible possibilities. From this beginning, the journey that entrepreneurs and their teams experience is a truly unique set of moments​ — some good, some challenging​, but always different paths to greatness.

​Having been an entrepreneur myself, I experienced the twists, turns, and euphoria of this journey first-hand. And now, ​as a Partner at Accel, I will be afforded the privilege to partner with entrepreneurs at the start of ​their journey.

The Accel platform will simply allow me to continue doing what I really love — helping to build companies and being around inspiring leaders.

The Accel platform will simply allow me to continue doing what I really love— helping to build companies and being around inspiring leaders. And now I get to work alongside multiple ​companies at once rather than just my own. I am so excited to partner with founders who have an uncomfortably massive vision, commitment to culture, and are relentless about being great every day over a long period of time in order to achieve their dreams.

So what sectors am I interested in? The unprecedented increase in the creation of accessible data, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the ability to deliver this in new interfaces has created an incredible opportunity for innovation. This will transform the way we work and interact and I hope to partner with those incredible entrepreneurs driving this transformation.

I also thought I’d share a quick recap of the experiences and insights I learned as an entrepreneur since it’ll help shed a light on my journey and approach to things.

I spent the last 5 years with an incredible team at RelateIQ where I was co-founder and CEO. Two years ago, we were acquired by Salesforce for $390 million.

RelateIQ existed to solve the core problems we saw with the way teams manage relationships. We observed that the signals that told the “story” of a relationship weren’t being captured or shared among colleagues that often times created poor customer experiences. We saw this problem as a massive opportunity that could be solved by automatically capturing the signals. More specifically, our product leveraged all of the breakthroughs happening in machine learning to reveal insights about customers, and deliver well-designed experiences in applications — dramatically improving customer relationships.

After running independently for three years, the amazing team at Salesforce, led by founder and CEO Marc Benioff, acquired us and dramatically accelerated our growth.

The experience of building RelateIQ was exhilarating with incredible highs and sorrowing lows — sometimes in the same day. Our core values were “people, moments, ideas, results.” These values were the foundation of everything we did and made the journey one of a kind. I am so thankful to all of my teammates at RelateIQ and Salesforce for the remarkable ride.

I was also fortunate to have an incredible set of board members, mentors, and advisors like the late Bill Campbell and Bob Cohn. They pushed us hard and were always available to guide, but not decide our path. I was constantly blown away by the direct manner they communicated with me and the team. Bill and Bob provided tough love and challenged our thinking, but made sure and we owned the decisions and the outcomes.

After our acquisition, I learned incredible lessons in leadership working directly for Marc and seeing how he managed the fastest growing enterprise software company in history. He too would constantly weigh-in to make sure we thought things through, but also made it clear that we owned our destiny.

From Accel, I was very lucky to have Ping Li on my board who represented everything I love about partnership, mentorship, and thinking with an open mind. He wanted us to get the most out of ourselves. While he and I worked very closely together, he made sure our relationship was not limited to him, and we had the full Accel team available to us. Being an entrepreneur who directly experienced partnering with Accel made me appreciate what it takes to provide real help support as an investor, while allowing entrepreneurs to discover their own unique capabilities and path.

All these are experiences gave me valuable insights that I’m really passionate about sharing with others ​ as an investor. I’ve learned a prerequisite to achieving great things is take the step of daring to be great.

That moment when an entrepreneur decides to set that audacious goal is the moment I want to be the first person to partner with them. And help them achieve their dreams.

PS — Ping has a post that gets more into the backstory here in case you’re interested.