Sramana Mitra: What happened? She left to go to Cisco?
Devdutt Yellurkar: She built the company and the company got acquired by Cisco. It was a massive exit. She is now part of Chuck Robin’s executive team.
Sramana Mitra: What is the name of the company?
Devdutt Yellurkar: It’s called Accompany.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us a little bit about what you see today in terms of trends that interest you where you think there’s going to be large companies. I ask this question to investors. The word that comes back inevitably is AI. I want something more sophisticated.
Devdutt Yellurkar: There are two reasons why the whole industry has got so much capital coming in. One is that’s where the growth is. Everything now is software-related. Every industry is software-related. The technology industry has become very pervasive. Everything has technology in it. Therefore, entrepreneurs who have a critical insight into that industry can now apply venture capital dollars against that. That is what is exciting.
Because of that, the opportunity for venture capital is much bigger than we have ever seen before. The cloud and the web have dramatically reduced or altered early-stage economics. In my day, when we had to build something, we had to build a data center. It took a lot of capital. By the time I got to scale, I had already raised $25 million in the 90’s. You don’t need that anymore. You can be two people in Vietnam writing a beautiful application using Google or Amazon.
You don’t have to write your own application server like we did. You can do it from anywhere in the world. You have access to technology. You have access to frameworks and compute that didn’t exist before. The barrier to building companies has dropped. The good thing is that you have hundreds of micro-VC funds. There are thousands of entrepreneurs with the same idea.
I always joke that when a company comes out of YC, there are five other companies starting all over the world that are doing exactly the same thing. That’s okay. That’s competition. May the best entrepreneur win. Then at the later-stage, the bigger funds can sit back and watch who is going to win, and then deploy that capital. It’s all good for the entrepreneur. The way I look at it is, there has never been a better time to build companies and to take risks. The gauntlet that you have to go through is distribution and making yourself different.
Sramana Mitra: It has become very noisy. The web has become very noisy. To get noticed is a tough exercise.
Devdutt Yellurkar: Even in 2008 when Zendesk was starting up, there were 25 or 30 companies all over the world doing the same thing. Why did Zendesk get the gauntlet? They had a secret. They were unique. They understood that 80% of the people needed just 20% of the functionality and that email is a great way to build workflow.
Sramana Mitra: Great. Thank you for your time.