Emergence Capital Partners, an enterprise-focused venture firm that has backed Salesforce.com, Yammer and Box, just took on a new operating partner with the hiring of Alison Berkley Wagonfeld. She comes from Harvard Business School’s California Research Center down in Menlo Park.
Before that, she co-created QuickenLoans at Intuit, which eventually became one of the biggest online home loan lenders in the U.S. She was also an early employee and VP of marketing and business development at Greenlight.com, a Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers-backed company that was acquired by CarsDirect.
At Emergence, she’ll help the firm’s portfolio companies with their recruiting. She’ll also work on marketing Emergence’s brand and ideas around how cloud-based software services will evolve. The decade-old firm has $575 million under management.
The firm does both early and growth-stage investments at the Series A and B levels, but Wagonfeld said the firms feels it can help the most at the very earliest stages. They look at companies that deliver software-as-a-service and are now looking at mobile business applications and social applications for the enterprise.
“We believe that we will see a new wave of companies in these sectors that can take advantage of the increasingly low cost of technology to create service businesses that scale in a capital-efficient way,” she said in an e-mail. She pointed to the firm’s recent deal to invest in Top Hat Monocle, a mobile-based education platform that helps students engage with their instructors.
While the venture community is swinging away from consumer to enterprise after B2B IPOs outperformed much-hyped consumer IPOs from Groupon and Zynga over the past two years, she says the firm isn’t feeling that much competition because of its focus.
“Emergence focuses exclusively on SaaS companies,” she said. “This focus has enabled the firm to gain domain expertise in what it takes to be successful, and entrepreneurs seem to appreciate the firm’s deep knowledge about SaaS best practices and key metrics.”