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Sapphire Ventures

Invests in high-growth, expansion-stage technology companies, specifically focusing on artificial intelligence & machine learning, B2B SaaS, web3, cyber security, data & analytics, DevOps, fintech, health tech, and vertical SaaS
Sapphire Ventures
Leadership team

Nino Marakovic  (CEO + Partner)

Jai Das (President + Partner)

Rajeev Dham (Partner)

Steve Abbott (Partner)

Annalise Dragic (Partner)

Number of Employees
50 - 100
Headquarters
Menlo Park, California, U.S.
Established
1996
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Summary

Sapphire Ventures is a venture capital fund based in the United States. It was formerly the corporate venture capital arm of SAP but was spun out as an independent firm in 2011. The fund focuses on investing in visionary companies that aim to transform various industries and sectors.

Sapphire Ventures invests in both expansion-stage and later-stage companies. They provide initial investment checks ranging from $5 million to $10 million for expansion-stage companies, and they can invest up to $100 million in later-stage businesses. The fund has a long history of venture investing and offers significant expertise and support to its portfolio companies beyond just capital.

One of the core areas of focus for Sapphire Ventures is enterprise technology. They invest in companies operating in the United States, Europe, and Israel. Additionally, Sapphire Ventures has a dedicated sports fund, Sapphire Sports, which invests in the intersection of technology, sports, media, and entertainment. Through Sapphire Partners, the fund also invests in early-stage venture capital funds that specialize in enterprise and consumer technology in the US, Europe, and Israel.


History

Sapphire Ventures has a rich history that dates back to its founding in 1996 as the venture capital arm of SAP, a multinational software conglomerate. Originally established to support SAP's strategic investments in technology companies, Sapphire Ventures operated as a subsidiary within SAP for over a decade.

During its early years, Sapphire Ventures managed a fund of $1.4 billion and made investments in more than 125 companies. It experienced notable success, with 10 of its portfolio companies going public and 17 being acquired. However, as the firm grew and evolved, it sought greater independence and the ability to expand its investment focus beyond SAP's ecosystem.

In 2011, Sapphire Ventures underwent a significant transformation when it spun out from SAP to become an independent venture capital firm. This move allowed the firm to pursue a more diverse range of investments and strategies, independent of SAP's direct influence. To reflect this new identity, the firm rebranded as Sapphire Ventures in 2014.

Following its independence, Sapphire Ventures continued to expand its investment activities and global presence. It opened additional offices in key technology hubs, including Menlo Park, San Francisco, Austin, and London. These locations provided the firm with access to vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems and a broader network of investment opportunities.

Sapphire Ventures also launched Sapphire Partners in 2012. This real-time fund aimed to invest in early-stage venture capital funds based in North America, Europe, and Israel. In addition to being a limited partner, Sapphire Partners engaged in direct co-investing alongside its partner funds, further diversifying its investment portfolio.

The firm demonstrated its commitment to fostering innovation and collaboration in the technology industry by co-hosting the first industry summit on the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2015. Sapphire Ventures partnered with technology companies Cisco Systems and Siemens to organize the event, named "IoT: Empowering The Enterprise." This summit brought together industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors to explore the potential of IoT technologies.

In 2019, Sapphire Ventures launched Sapphire Sport, a fund dedicated to investing in early-stage technology companies at the intersection of sports, media, and entertainment. Backers of this fund included prominent sports leagues and organizations such as Manchester City's City Football Group, the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and others. Sapphire Sport aimed to support innovation in areas such as sports technology, fan engagement, and media.

As Sapphire Ventures continued to expand its investment activities and assets under management, it raised significant amounts of capital in subsequent years. In 2021, the firm raised $1.7 billion in February and an additional $2 billion in November, surpassing $8.8 billion in assets under management. This increase in capital enabled Sapphire Ventures to enhance its Portfolio Growth capabilities and support larger investment opportunities.

In 2022, Sapphire Ventures achieved further recognition and involvement in the venture capital industry. The firm joined the board of the National Venture Capital Association, with one of its partners, Beezer Clarkson, serving from 2022 through 2026. Sapphire Ventures also became the official sponsor of PitchBook's podcast, further establishing its presence and thought leadership in the industry.

In early 2023, Sapphire Ventures announced a new $181 million fund for Sapphire Sport, reinforcing its commitment to investing in the sports, media, and entertainment sectors.


Investment criteria

Sapphire Ventures is an enterprise-focused venture capital firm that invests in companies at the growth stage. The firm has a specific set of investment criteria that guide its decision-making process. Here are the key aspects of Sapphire Ventures' investment criteria:

  • Growth-stage companies: Sapphire Ventures primarily targets companies that have already demonstrated market traction and are at the growth stage of their development. They typically invest in companies that have achieved product-market fit and are ready to scale their business.
  • Enterprise focus: Sapphire Ventures focuses on investing in enterprise software and technology companies. They seek opportunities in sectors such as cloud computing, cybersecurity, data analytics, artificial intelligence, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and other areas that address the needs of large enterprises.
  • Market potential: The firm looks for companies operating in large and rapidly growing markets. They seek businesses that have the potential to disrupt traditional industries, create new market opportunities, or redefine existing sectors with innovative solutions.
  • Exceptional teams: Sapphire Ventures places great emphasis on investing in companies led by exceptional management teams. They look for founders and executives with a strong track record, deep industry expertise, and the ability to execute their growth strategies effectively.
  • Scalability and competitive advantage: The firm seeks companies that have built scalable business models and possess a competitive advantage in their respective markets. They look for companies with unique intellectual property, innovative technology, strong customer relationships, or other factors that give them a defensible position against competitors.
  • Global reach: Sapphire Ventures is a global investment firm that actively seeks opportunities in markets around the world. They have a broad perspective and invest in companies across different geographies, including North America, Europe, and Asia.
  • Value-added partnership: In addition to providing capital, Sapphire Ventures aims to be a value-added partner to its portfolio companies. They offer strategic guidance, operational expertise, industry connections, and access to their network of corporate partners to help portfolio companies accelerate their growth and achieve their business goals.

Values

Sapphire Ventures operates based on a set of core values that guide its approach to investing and working with portfolio companies. These values reflect the firm's commitment to excellence, collaboration, and trust. Here are some key values of Sapphire Ventures:

  • Experience: Sapphire Ventures places great emphasis on the experience and expertise of its team. They believe that their deep industry knowledge and track record in venture capital are essential for providing valuable insights and guidance to their portfolio companies. By drawing on their extensive experience, Sapphire Ventures aims to help entrepreneurs navigate challenges and make informed decisions.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration is at the heart of Sapphire Ventures' approach. They understand the importance of building strong relationships and partnerships with entrepreneurs, founders, and other investors. By fostering a collaborative environment, they aim to create a supportive ecosystem where ideas are shared, knowledge is exchanged, and collective success is achieved.
  • Trust: Trust is a fundamental value for Sapphire Ventures. They believe that trust is earned through transparency, integrity, and open communication. They strive to establish trust-based relationships with their portfolio companies by being reliable partners who act in their best interests. This trust forms the foundation for long-term partnerships and enables effective collaboration.
  • Growth: Sapphire Ventures is committed to helping its portfolio companies grow and scale. They provide more than just financial backing; they offer strategic guidance, operational expertise, and access to a vast network of industry connections. Sapphire Ventures supports entrepreneurs in reaching their full potential by leveraging their resources and expertise to accelerate growth and maximize value creation.
  • Impact: Sapphire Ventures aims to make a positive impact not only on the companies they invest in but also on the broader technology ecosystem. They actively seek investments in companies that have the potential to transform industries, create innovation, and solve significant problems. By supporting these high-impact ventures, Sapphire Ventures contributes to the advancement of technology and drives positive change.

Mission

Sapphire Ventures' mission is to partner with visionary entrepreneurs and help them build successful and enduring companies. They aim to provide more than just capital, bringing their extensive network, expertise, and resources to support entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses and achieving their goals.

The firm is committed to fostering a collaborative and trusted relationship with the entrepreneurs they back. Sapphire Ventures understands that partnering with a venture firm is a critical decision for entrepreneurs, and they strive to align themselves with the vision and values of the companies they invest in.


Portfolio

Sapphire Ventures has an extensive investment track record, having invested in more than 130 companies across 10 countries since its inception. The firm has a strong focus on identifying high-potential companies and supporting their growth and success.

With over 70 exits, including 30 IPOs and 45 acquisitions, Sapphire Ventures is recognized as one of the most active venture capital firms based on public exits. Among the notable portfolio companies backed by Sapphire Ventures that have experienced significant milestones such as IPOs or acquisitions are:

  • 23andMe: A company specializing in personal genetic testing and research.
  • Alteryx: A provider of self-service data analytics software.
  • Apigee: A platform for building and managing APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).
  • Auth0: A leading identity management platform that was acquired by Okta.
  • AvidXchange: A fintech company that offers accounts payable and payment automation solutions.
  • Block / Square: Square is a well-known financial services and mobile payment company.
  • Braze: A customer engagement platform that helps companies deliver personalized messaging across multiple channels.
  • Box: A cloud content management and file-sharing platform.
  • Cazoo: A digital car retailer that went public through a merger with a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company).
  • Control4: A provider of smart home automation systems.
  • DocuSign: A digital transaction management platform for electronic signatures and document workflows.
  • ExactTarget: A provider of cloud-based marketing automation and email marketing services, acquired by Salesforce.

References
Sapphire Ventures
Leadership team

Nino Marakovic  (CEO + Partner)

Jai Das (President + Partner)

Rajeev Dham (Partner)

Steve Abbott (Partner)

Annalise Dragic (Partner)

Number of Employees
50 - 100
Headquarters
Menlo Park, California, U.S.
Established
1996
Social Media