In Silicon Valley, a growing number of venture capitalists are breaking away from the larger firms to form smaller, highly specialized funds.
Above: Sunil Dhaliwal, managing partner of Amplify Partners.
The newest is Amplify Partners; its managing partner Sunil Dhaliwal is formerly of Battery Ventures, where he invested in hot enterprise companies like Splunk and Netezza (acquired by IBM). Dhaliwal has succeeded in raising a $40 million fund to invest solely in emerging IT infrastructure companies.
“Technical founders working on IT infrastructure startups have far fewer options for funding compared to digital media, consumer Internet, or even application software startups,” said Dhaliwal in an interview. He was inspired to start the firm after meeting entrepreneurs in this space who felt that angel investors and larger firms didn’t have the time to provide “senior level attention.”
Dhaliwal believes that incumbent IT infrastructure vendors are “vulnerable” in a way the industry hasn’t seen for 25 years. And with hundreds of billions of dollars to be made, “it was pretty clear that I should fill that gap,” he said.
Amplify’s startups are all led by “technical founders who would rather write code than PowerPoint.” The three key themes the firm is looking for are scale-out architectures, data growth, and real-time infrastructure. The entrepreneurs tackling these problems must be focused on efficient business models from day one.
Dhaliwal revealed that Amplify Partners will make initial investments ranging from $50,000 to $1.5 million, and retains the necessary capital to fund its entrepreneurs through several rounds. Current portfolio companies include AppNeta, Continuuity, Datadog, Fastly, Wibidata, and several startups in stealth mode. Amplify Partners has offices in Cambridge and at Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto.