Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Anshu Sharma was recorded in March 2018.
Anshu Sharma is an active angel investor who invests in Silicon Valley and India. Anshu has deep experience in the enterprise software space, and a thoughtful, sophisticated perspective. He is one of the early investors in Nutanix, which currently has a market cap of over $8.5 billion in the public market.
Sramana Mitra: Before we get into your investment activities, why don’t you tell our audience a bit about your professional activities outside of investing just to set some context about your perspective. You’ve had a very deep experience at Salesforce. Just tell us a little bit about that.
Anshu Sharma: My career started out the way it starts out for a lot of people who are immigrants. I worked for Oracle for many years. Then I went on to Salesforce where I ran various products, especially on the platform side. I eventually ended up running product strategy for Salesforce. After that, I left and started doing active investment.
I ended up being a venture partner. I’ve done a mix of running products, writing code, and making investments both as a VC and angel investor. These days, I’m the Chairman and Founder of a startup called ClearedIn, which is a cyber security-focused startup started by a friend of mine. I’m focused on helping them get new ideas up from ground into the real world.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s talk a bit about your investment focus. What do you like to invest in? How do you frame your investment thesis in the current context?
Anshu Sharma: My investment focus is almost entirely on what I’ve slowly begun to call founder-market fit. What that means is I’m essentially looking for markets that I understand and the founding team understands well so that we think we can build a fairly large interesting business there.
A perfect example of something like this would be a company called Workato. Salesforce just acquired MuleSoft for $6.5 billion. Workato is a integration product company started a few years ago by a team of ex-TIPCO executives. These are people I’ve known. When they said they’re going to rethink how automation and integration is done, it was a no-brainer for me to get involved as an investor.
It ends up being something where there’s a natural flow to things. When I feel like I’m reaching out too far from what I understand and am excited about, that’s not an area where I would make an investment.
Sramana Mitra: Would it be fair to say you focus entirely on enterprise SaaS?
Anshu Sharma: I’m focused on enterprise software companies primarily. They don’t have to be all classical SaaS. Nutanix is a perfect example which was one of my early investments. They started out as a private cloud data center automation company and not really a SaaS company. The more important thing for me is do I understand the buyer and why they would need this thing.
Sramana Mitra: What sized investment do you like to make?
Anshu Sharma: I’m an angel investor so my typical investment check is somewhere between $25,000 and $100,000.