Those who know in the Valley know the name Sam Pullara. Whether it was his time as a repeat entrepreneur and technical founder, or stints as an EIR at some of the Valley’s most premier venture capital firms, or his time as a lead technologist at two of the largest tech companies in the Valley (most recently at Twitter), Pullara has occupied nearly every seat at the table throughout his career. Now, after leaving Twitter and after years of being an angel investor, Pullara has moved himself and his blog, Java Rants, over to the venture capital side as a Managing Director of Sutter Hill Ventures in Palo Alto, a firm which started back in the early 1960s and has focused on investing in SaaS, infrastructure, and other fundamental technologies.
I invited Pullara into the Studio because he isn’t the type to seek out attention, and I let the cameras run longer to capture the full arc of his career. He has started two companies, both of which were acquired, has been an EIR and consultant with Accel Partners and Benchmark Capital, was the Chief Scientist at Yahoo!, and most recently was part of a small, senior team that helped rebuild Twitter’s codebase. In this discussion, Pullara details his career moves, what he learned being a technical operator, a technical founder, and now a venture capitalist (including angel investments), with the hopes of providing an example for many engineers out there today starting out in their careers. Specifically, Pullara touches on how his technical ability gave him C-level access to company leaders to pitch solutions directly to them. On a different track, he also (honestly) explains his lessons as an angel investor and shares details into the unique capital and LP structure of Sutter Hill Ventures, where he is now investing into the next wave of technology startups.