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VC Firm CRV Snags Salesforce Ventures’ Longtime Leader As Newest Partner

Recent unicorns in CRV’s portfolio include Airtable, Cybereason, Iterable, Kong and Patreon; the firm was also an early investor in DoorDash, which went public in December...

After an eight year run building Salesforce Ventures into one of tech’s most active corporate venture arms, investor Matt Garratt is switching from CRM to CRV.

Palo Alto-based venture capital firm CRV has tapped Garratt to join the firm as a general partner, focused on enterprise software. Garratt, who joined Salesforce in 2013 and most recently served as a senior vice president and managing partner of Salesforce Ventures, had his last day at the tech giant known for its customer relationship management (CRM) software on Wednesday. He starts at CRV in early July.

For Garratt, the move to CRV is a reunion with general partner Murat Bicer, with whom he was a junior investor at Battery Ventures from 2008 to 2012. (Bicer blogged about the news here.) Back then, the center of gravity of venture capital was based more in the Boston area, where you’d find Battery and CRV, then known as Charles River Ventures, and already long-established after its founding in 1970.

But Bicer and CRV moved west in subsequent years, and so did Garratt, who ended up running a large-scale corporate venture arm for Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and his top lieutenant John Somorjai, who oversaw the fast-growing tech company’s acquisitions and investments, including Salesforce Ventures.

While Garratt was there, Salesforce Ventures built its profile off of investments meant to juggle financial returns and strategic benefits for its parent company. Those include Gainsight, ThousandEyes, nCino, Twilio, Pendo, Conga, Zoom, Snowflake and MuleSoft, which Salesforce ultimately acquired for $6.5 billion in 2018.

CRV, meanwhile, has gradually brought in fresh blood as it rebranded and re-anchored itself on the West Coast, raising $600 million for its latest fund last summer. The firm has hired seven new investors in the last 12 months, Bicer says, five of them women. (CRV has two women in its general partnership today.) Recent unicorns in CRV’s portfolio include Airtable, Cybereason, Iterable, Kong and Patreon; the firm was also an early investor in DoorDash, which went public in December 2020.

“We have been very effective in winning in a lot of competitive situations,” Bicer says of CRV’s recent deals, which include for startups Emotive and Figure. “The team built recently is probably the main reason.”

That team is also what most attracted Garratt to jump from the Salesforce ohana, as Benioff likes to describe its greater family. CRV’s flat partnership structure and the promise of investing solely for financial returns, and not just strategic value to a parent company like Salesforce, didn’t hurt. “It’s just one of those things where you feel like you’re going to be working with friends,” Garratt says.

Garratt is one of eight general partners making investments moving forward for CRV, alongside Anna Khan, Izhar Armony, Kristin Baker Spohn, Max Gazor, Bicer, Reid Christian and Saar Gur. Partners Jon Auerbach, Dylan Morris, Devdutt Yellurkar, George Zachary and Bruce Sachs are backing new companies.

With CRV investing about 80% in enterprise software and technology startups, according to Bicer, expect Garratt to push the firm more into enterprise apps and software solutions, his natural wheelhouse for potential partners while at Salesforce. Garratt says he is especially excited by vertical software opportunities and software that can help internal teams ship products faster. “I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of enterprise software right now,” he says.

He joins at a time when money is flowing freely throughout the venture ecosystem, from new and larger funds to high-velocity, eye-popping checks getting written to startups that don’t just not always have much in the way of sales — they may not yet have a product to sell at all. In such a volatile moment of funding, CRV has looked to invest more in Europe and think flexibly about where the next opportunity can come.

“It feels like it’s going to be one big experiment that we’re all running,” Bicer says. Adds Garratt: “The outcomes are bigger than ever, and the opportunity is still bigger.”

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