Joe Montana prepares for the biggest venture win when GitLab does an IPO

Joseph “Joe” Montana, co-founder of the iMFL and retired NFL quarterback, will speak in an interview on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif.

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Joe Montana won his first Super Bowl as an NFL quarterback in 1982. Almost 40 years later, he is about to get his first IPO as a venture capitalist.

Having won the San Francisco 49ers four times in the Super Bowl and being inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame in 2000, Montana has invested in start-ups through his company Liquid 2 Ventures for the past six years. He started with a $ 28 million fund and is now closing a third fund that is almost triple in size.

One of Liquid 2’s first investments was announced in July 2015 when a code repository called GitLab raised a $ 1.5 million seed round after passing through the Y Combinator incubator program. GitLab was valued at about $ 12 million at the time, and other funding participants included Khosla Ventures and Ashton Kutcher.

On Thursday, GitLab will debut on Nasdaq with a market capitalization of nearly $ 10 billion, based on its range cap of $ 69. Montana’s first $ 100,000 investment and subsequent funding is worth about $ 42 million at that price.

In an interview this week, 65-year-old Montana said while on vacation in Italy, “we are all pretty excited.” “This will be a monster for us.”

The San Francisco 49ers Joe Montana # 16 celebrates after playing against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Super Bowl XVI on January 24, 1982 at the Silver Dome in Pontiac, Michigan. The Nainers won the Super Bowl 26-21.

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From NBA stars Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala to tennis legend Serena Williams, it’s become a Silicon Valley trend for well-known athletes to start up, while Montana games much faster. I jumped into. Prior to Liquid 2, Montana was involved in a company called HRJ. The company was founded by former 49-year-old stars Harris Barton and Ronnie Lott.

HRJ, which had invested in other funds instead of investing directly in the company, collapsed in 2009 and was accused of failing to meet its financial promise.

But instead of returning to the sport that brought him the role of executive and fame as a broadcaster, Montana stuck to investing, like many fellow All-Star quarterbacks. This time he took a very different route.

Convinced by Ron Conway

Silicon Valley super angel Ron Conway, known for his lucrative bets on Google, Facebook and Airbnb, has begun to show Montana the world of initial investment, primarily through Y Combinator. Montana participated in Y Combinator Demo Days with an increase in seed investors and celebrities. There you will see a slide of your company where entrepreneurs are constantly growing upwards and to the right.

“We were trying to see what their secret source was, who they saw, and what they were really looking for in an early stage company,” Montana said of Conway and his. Said referring to the team. “He started taking us there, and we started making a handful of investments here and there, and then he told me to start a fund.”

In 2015, Conway was talking to the latest group of founders of the Y Combinator program. He invited Montana to the event. There, Montana met Sid Sijbrandij, CEO of GitLab, a Dutch entrepreneur who turned an open source project that helps developers collaborate in code into a company that packages software and sells it to businesses.

“We got together and said,’Hey, this is a special man,'” Montana said. “We promised that night.”

GitLab was just out of Y Combinator. In a presentation on Demo Day in March, Sijbrandij told the audience that his company has 10 employees and 800 contributors are working on an open source project. GitLab is growing at a pace of $ 1 million in annual revenue, and paid customers include Apple, Cisco, Disney, and Microsoft, he said.

GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij at a corporate event in London


According to the prospectus, GitLab currently employs more than 1,350 people in more than 65 countries. GitLab’s annual revenue is over $ 230 million as it prepares to enter the open market on Thursday.Second-quarter sales were up 69% to $ 58.1 million

However, GitLab spends three-quarters of its revenue on sales and marketing, resulting in a net loss of $ 40.2 million in the last quarter. Much of the marketing budget focuses on expanding the DevOps (combination of software development and IT operations) user base.

“We will continue to invest in sales and marketing with a focus on replacing DIY DevOps within large organizations to drive new customer growth,” the company said in its prospectus.

“I’m still listening to the pitch”

In the case of Montana, GitLab marks his company’s first IPO, but states that “the portfolio has an additional 12 or 13 unicorns,” referring to more than $ 1 billion in startups. These include Anduril, a defense technology company led by Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, and Applied Intuition, which has begun testing self-driving cars.

Montana has three other partners. Mike Miller who co-founded Cloudant and sold it to IBM. Michael Ma who sold the startup to Google and became a product manager there. Joe’s son, Nate Montana, who used to work on Twitter.

Montana said he is involved in the fund on a daily basis and attends partner meetings every Tuesday. He says that tech-experienced partners handle much of the technical attention and transaction procurement, while focusing on using connections within the network to support their portfolios. Said.

“I was still talking nationwide until the pandemic happened,” Montana said, adding that he didn’t start receiving salaries until the third fund. “I was talking to companies like SAP, Amex, Visa and many big companies like big insurance companies up to Burger King.”

Montana is unique to GitLab and said it had early associated Sijbrandij with Visa’s senior management when it was considering dealing with a payment processor.

“I’m still listening to the pitch. I go to the pitch and do it all,” Montana said. “But my time should be spent helping connect these companies as they mature.”

look: Co-founder and CEO of GitLab on the future of work during and after a pandemic

Joe Montana prepares for the biggest venture win when GitLab does an IPO

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