Joseph "Joe " Montana, co-founder of the 'iMFL and retired National Football League (NFL) quarterback, speaks during an interview in San Francisco, California, United States, Tuesday, April 30, 2013.David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Images
Joe Montana won his first Super Bowl as an NFL quarterback in 1982. Almost four decades later, he's on the verge of getting his first IPO as a venture capitalist.
Montana, who led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl wins and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Football League in 2000, has spent the last six years investing in start-ups through his company, Liquid " 2 Ventures . He started with a fund of $ 28 million and endedis now tending its third fund which is almost three times the size.
One of Liquid 2's first investments was announced " in July 2015 , when a code repository called GitLab raised a $ 1.5 million funding round after been through the Y Combinator incubator program. GitLab's valuation at the time was around $ 12 million, and other funding participants included Khosla Ventures and Ashton Kutcher.
Thursday, GitLab is debuts on the Nasdaq with a market cap of nearly $ 10 billion, based on a price of $ 69, the high end of its range. Montana's initial $ 100,000 investment, plus follow-on funding, is worth around $ 42 million at that price.
"We're all prettyexcited, "Montana, 65, said in an interview this week while on vacation in Italy. " It'll be a monster for us. " Joe Montana # 16 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after scoring against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI on January 24, 1982 at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich. The Niners won the Super Bowl 26-21.Focus On Sport | Sport Images | Images
As famous athletes take to the stage start-ups has become a trend in Silicon Valley - from NBA Stars Stephen " Curry and Andre Iguodala to tennis legend Serena " Williams - Montana got into the game much earlier. Prior to Liquid 2, Montana was involved in a company called HRJ, founded by ex-49ers Harris Barton and Ronnie Lott.
HRJ, who invested in other funds ratherthat directly in companies, collapsed in 2009 and was sued for allegedly defaulting on his financial commitments.
But rather than returning to sport it won him fame in an executive role or as a broadcaster, like so many 'other star quarterbacks, Montana stuck with the investment. This time it took a much different route.
Convinced by Ron Conway
Ron Conway, the Silicon Valley Super Angel known for his lucrative bets at Google , Facebook and Airbnb , "Montana began to show around the investment world at an early stage, principallyalso through Y Combinator. Montana, along with a growing crop of seed investors and celebrities, would attend the Y Combinator Demo Days, where entrepreneurs show slides of their businesses with growth that is always up and right.
"We were trying to see what their secret sauce was and who they were looking at and what they were really looking for in startups " said Montana, referring to Conway and his team. "He started taking us there, and we started making a handful of investments here and there, and then he convinced me to set up a fund.
En 2015, Conway was speaking to the last group of founders of the Y Combinator program, and he invited Montana to attend the event. It was there that Montana met GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij, a Dutch entrepreneur who had turned an open source project to help developers collaborate on theCode into a company that was packaging software and selling it to businesses.
"We got together and said, 'hey that's a special guy ' " Montana said. . "We signed up last night.
GitLab had just released from Y Combinator. In his presentation at Demo Day in March, Sijbrandij said to the public that his company had 10 employees and 800 collaborators working on the open source project. GitLab was on track for annual sales of $ 1 million, he said, and paying customers included Apple , Cisco , Disney and Microsoft . GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij at a corporate event in London GitLab
GitLab now employs more than 1,350 people in more than 65 countries, according to his prospectus . As it prepares to hit the public market on Thursday, GitLab's annualized revenue stands at over $ 230 million. Second-quarter sales jumped 69% to $ 58.1 million
However, given that GitLab spends the equivalent of three-quarters of its revenue on sales and marketing, the company recorded a net loss of $ 40.2 million last quarter. A large portion of the marketing budget is spent on expanding its DevOps user base (the combination of software development and IT operations).
"To drive new customer growth , we intend to continue to invest in sales andMarketing, with the emphasis on replacing DIY DevOps within large organizations, "the company said in the prospectus.
'Still listening to pitches '
For Montana, GitLab marks its company's first IPO, although he said " we have 12 or 13 more unicorns in the portfolio "referring to start-ups valued at $ 1 billion or more. They include Anduril , " the defense technology company led by Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, and the start of autonomous vehicle testing. up Applied "Intuition .
Montana has three other partners in the firm: Mike Miller, who co-founded Cloudant and sold it to IBM ; "Michael Ma, who sold a start-up to Google and became product manager there; and Nate Montana, Joe's son, who previously worked at Twitter .
Montana " said it 's involved daily in the fund and attended partner meetings every Tuesday. He said his partners, who are more experienced in the tech arena, handle much of the technical due diligence and bid research, while he focuses on helping portfolios with connections in his network.
"Until the pandemic, I was still talking all over the country," Montana said, adding that he had only started to receive a salary only from the third fund. "I was talking to companies like SAP, Amex, Visa and many big companies like big insurance companies until Burger King. "
Specific to GitLab, Montana said he put Sijbrandij in touch early on with a senior executive from Visa , " when the business sought to make a deal with the payment processor.
"I always listen to the pitches, I go to the pitches and I do all that, " Montana said. "But my time is better spent now helping connect these businesses as they mature.
WATCH: Co-founder " and CEO of GitLab on the future of work during and after the pandemic