📼 2020 Ridge Rewind
🎄 VCeason’s Greetings!
Did anyone have elbow bumps, cardboard sports fans, or socially distanced mall Santas on their 2020 bingo card? Didn’t think so.
2020 was full of surprises: “the new normal” beat out “synergy” for the business-speak championship belt, virtual meetings resembled Hollywood Squares, and the investment playbook seemed to change by the week. Through it all, our companies adapted to the altered landscape and so did we, bolstering our portfolio and investment team with fresh new talent.
We don’t know what the future holds, but we know our founders will help determine that future. Check out our end-of-year Ridge Rewind to see how Ridge brightened up the Zoom and gloom of 2020 — and scroll all the way down for a special treat!
🌱 Ch-Ch-Chia: The Ridge Team Keeps Growing
All we did was add a little water — and BAM! — the Ridge Team multiplied like Gremlins.
Partner Yousuf Khan joined us in August. He is the sultan of sweater vests and longtime CIO of Pure Storage, Automation Anywhere, Moveworks, Qualys, and more. It’s only been a few months, but Yousuf’s two decades of enterprise experience have proven invaluable to Ridge and our founders.
Did you hear about our newly christened Forbes 30 Under 30er? That would be Principal Kamil Saeid, whose journey from Sudan to Stanford grad to VC wunderkind has inspired us all. Alongside Kamil we added venture comms veteran Susan Stella as Head of LP Relations. Emerging firms and multi-billion dollar PE funds alike have soared under her tutelage.
Other Ridge-inforcements include Analyst/pro-woodworker Mary Boyajian and multitalented Executive Assistant Erika Benadom. The Q to our James Bond, we also tapped early AngelList-er and CS mastermind Andrew Cove to create all kinds of gadgets and systems to streamline our investment process.
Our end-of-year tree topper was CFO Derrick Lee. With legendary Ridge CFO Lorra Stone semi-retiring, we needed to replace her with the finest Douglas fir in the whole lot. Derrick, previously at Mohr Davidow and Wildcat Ventures, turned out to be a Rockefeller Tree.
💸 It’s a Funderful Life
2020 couldn’t stop us from supersizing our portfolio and follow-on investments. At the start of the year, we backed Habu — an offshoot of Ridge standout Krux — to the delight of overworked marketers everywhere. We love reconnecting with old pals, which brings us to…
Spectrum Labs. Also started by two ex-Krux execs, Spectrum Labs is detoxifying an Internet full of trolls, cyberbullies, and keyboard sociopaths. Safer gaming. Safer social media. Safer dating apps. More than a safe investment.
Sticking with the safety theme, we backed Deduce, the Minority Report of Cybersecurity, to the tune of $7.3 million. Deduce preemptively thwarts account takeovers long before they happen and apprises users of shady activity in real time.
Other money moves include InCountry and Outlier. InCountry raised $18 million in September for its data-residency-as-a-service, also announcing a bump in its valuation and the number of countries it services (90). Meanwhile, Outlier’s business intelligence platform bagged $22.1 million after growing 400+ percent in 2019.
🧨️ The Bigguns Keep Getting Bigger
This just in: Thesaurus.com has added a new tab for Fastly superlatives. We tried our best to put Fastly’s meteoric rise into words, but the company’s 2020 feats do all the talking. Earlier this year, Fastly added nearly $6 billion in market value in under two months and quickly became one of 2020’s best-performing work-from-home stocks. Fastly now owns a $10 billion market cap.
Elsewhere, Braze has been busy supercharging user engagement for HBO, Burger King, NASCAR, and other top brands. Named a leader in mobile engagement automation by Forrester, Braze recently entered the Japanese market and opened its sixth international office in Tokyo. Its revenue is north of $100 million.
Our resident VoIP/instant messaging platform, Discord, continues to make waves. In June, Discord raised $100 million in funding at a reported valuation of $3.5 billion as the company eschewed its label as a gamer-only app. TechCrunch reported another $100 million round — at $7 billion valuation — just this week.
💾 Our Female Founders Kick SaaS
Samasource led the charge for our female-founded companies this year, and certainly overcame the most adversity. In January, the company mourned the loss of Samasource founder and CEO Leila Janah. New CEO Wendy Gonzalez carried on Leila’s mission while earning Samasource a spot in the Inc. 5000 and taking great care of its African tech workers, who power AI for 25% of the Fortune 50.
ICYMI, ThirdLove, aside from being a WSJ crossword clue, still makes “the most comfortable bra on the planet.” In 2020, ThirdLove and co-founder/CEO Heidi Zak once again scared the bejeebers out of Victoria’s Secret, and launched The TL Effect, a mentoring program for entrepreneurs of color.
Winner of the most COVID-friendly dating app is undoubtedly The League. Founder and CEO Amanda Bradford helped roll out the app’s video speed-dating feature just before the pandemic. Meanwhile, Minted unveiled its partnership with Michaels craft stores and its Notes of Gratitude stationary collection that raises money for World Central Kitchen.
🔢 Data is What We Do Best
Data is the new oil. Data is the new Purell. Whatever metaphor you prefer, 2020 may have been the best year yet for our data-centric companies.
Take SafeGraph. At the height of the pandemic, tier-one media sought their foot-traffic data like a twelve pack of Charmin. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNN and FOX News appearances — SafeGraph’s press page reads like a George R.R. Martin novel.
Outside of its $18 million funding round, InCountry further established itself as a data residency frontrunner through validation from media and industry experts. Fast Company named InCountry one of the ten most innovative enterprise companies of 2020; Gartner selected it as a 2020 Cool Vendor in the Privacy category; and Peter Yared emerged as the voice of all things data compliance.
Similar to SafeGraph’s COVID-19 foot traffic reports, Outlier repurposed its business intelligence engine to create a Coronavirus Tracker that provides data on confirmed cases from around the world. And data wrangling platform Trifacta — a.k.a. the “data janitor,” per Business Insider — surpassed 100K users in April.
🎁 Stocking Stuffers
Another Ridge Rewind in the books. Thanks for tuning in!
However your 2020 went, we hope these final couple weeks of the year swing in your favor. Pour some extra Rémy Martin in that brandy-and-eggnog concoction. Splurge on those Trader Joe’s holiday cookies. You survived the Zoom-pocalypse — treat yourself!
And, as promised, here is our treat to you: a special little ditty about how we became…THE RIDGEE BUNCH.
Yours from six feet away,