In a town full of venture capital firms, Storm Ventures has made its mark with a singular focus on the enterprise. This week, the company announced it has taken on two freshly minted partners, Arun Penmetsa and Paul Willard, to continue the mission. They are doubling the number of partners with this announcement.
Penmetsa has been a principal at Storm for the last 3.5 years before being promoted to partner recently. Before joining Storm he worked as an engineer at Oracle and Google. Meanwhile, Willard, who was previously a partner at Subtraction Capital and has had stints as CMO at Atlassian and Practice Fusion also joined Storm as a partner this year.
The two men join a firm with over $800 million in assets under management and each brings real world experience working at successful enterprise companies
Willard says he felt like he found kindred spirits when started talking to the folks at Storm because their mission matched so well with his work helping young enterprise companies. “Part of the reason I came on board is I align so well with them,” Willard told TechCrunch.
As he pointed out, the company has been working with early-stage enterprise startups for the past 17 years and most VC firms in Silicon Valley are lacking that concentrated enterprise experience. “Everyone else might have a partner or two, but the enterprise is not the [primary] focus of their existence,” he said.
Penmetsa, who was hired by Storm out of graduate school at Stanford, has worked his way up the company ladder the old fashioned way. He says working at a venture capital company that emphasizes the enterprise has its advantages. “Storm’s strategy is pretty focused on enterprise and enterprise SaaS companies. We focus on that one area, and spending more time in that area, we have some sense of how [enterprise] companies evolve. It’s not a blueprint, but patterns do emerge,” he explained.
In his role at Storm before the promotion, Penmetsa worked with a variety of enterprise startups including TruStar Technology, a security startup concentrating on threat information sharing and ShoCard, a blockchain identity startup. He plans to continue looking at security, while also exploring digital healthcare as well.
Willard, who was an aerospace engineer at Boeing in the 1990s, has a passion for airline-related startups, and in prior positions helped a number of companies including Zipline, which is building robot airplanes to deliver emergency supplies like blood and medicine and Boom, a company building a new generation of supersonic transport planes. He plans to bring that experience to bear at Storm as well. While he says that he is open to talking to any enterprise software startup, he has his eye on Robotics as a Service and drone companies in particular at the moment.
The two new partners are already on board and at work at Storm. Today marks the formal announcement of their hiring.