I've been struggling with what to write in this post for weeks so I'm just going to come out and say it, I am leaving the venture capital business.
I have been a VC for eight years... 8 long years that flew by in a blink. We did 73 direct equity deals, returned a boatload of cash to the company, invested in some amazing teams, lost my ass on a few deals, regretted making a couple of investments, glad I didn't do many deals I saw, kick myself for not doing others. In short, it's been a great ride.
Earlier this year I started feeling a strong urge to do something different. I missed having direct operational control and I missed the sense of accomplishment that comes from successfully executing direct operational control, and quite honestly, all of the venture deals I was looking at started to look the same. I missed having a team. I was also concerned that my experience in operating roles in enterprise software was becoming dated and perhaps not as relevant to the state that the business is in today; it's one thing to spend 4 hours in a board meeting talking about a business, it's another thing altogether to actually do it.
What I was conflicted about is the notion that I had spent a long time cultivating relationships that resulted in good quality deal flow, and lately I was seeing some pretty cool deals (at least inasmuch as any enterprise software deal can be called cool.) I really felt that I was hitting a stride but in the end it just wasn't powerful enough for me to stay.
I thought about leaving home and sharking my way up at another venture firm, but the simple fact is that I have too much affection for SAP as a company to leave, and a boundless sense of loyalty that comes from the fact that Hasso Plattner hired me (Howard Lau hired me and we worked for Hasso up until a few years ago when Hasso took his role on the Supervisory Board) and was very generous over the years in protecting Ventures from those who wanted to get a bite at the apple and rewarding me for my work. Loyalty to people matters in any pursuit in life, you just can't take it lightly.
I was presented with an opportunity to lead a team working with people I really admire and respect on a set of challenges that are of pre-eminent importance to SAP. In short, the more I looked at this the more I found myself thinking in the role, I was hooked big time.
That's it really, as of 10/15 I was no longer a part of SAP Ventures. I really enjoyed my partners and consider all of them friends as much as colleagues. Lisa, Paul, Martina, and Jen will continue on and replace me, after all everyone is replaceable and I really do hope that by regenerating and refreshing the partnership that they will come out stronger. I'll post another day on what my new role is, but if you have noticed my sharper edge on commentary about Oracle you will not be surprised to learn about it, and some of the other downstream things that result from this change, such as what I'm going to do my blog now that I'm not a VC anymore (will continue but with a new sense of direction).