October marks the four year anniversary of Wipro’s acquisition of Appirio — an incredibly emotional day for me personally.
On that day I was so proud of what our team had built and excited to see where the journey would lead. Over the next 2+ years, I spent my time integrating Appirio into Wipro to help smooth the transition and to infuse elements of the Appirio culture into Wipro’s broader organization as the company’s first ever Global Culture Officer. In the years following, I joined various boards, started a few small businesses I’m passionate about, supported a number of amazing non-profits, and joined GGV Capital as a Venture Partner where I got the opportunity to work with an incredible group of founders and entrepreneurs.
About a year ago, after grazing across all these endeavors and enjoying the slower pace of ‘life on the lake’, I found I was craving more. I wanted to build something again. I wanted to have an outsized impact on an industry I cared about and a team I helped put together. The gravitational pull from friends, advisors, recruiters kept pushing me towards running a software business. While my history and track record has largely been in professional services, the software landscape was attractive. It was new, it was different, there were tons of opportunities, and as most investors will tell you, the exit economics tend to be a lot more favorable in software (provided you pick the right horse of course!).
Which got me thinking. Why does the professional services space get so short changed? While software is eating the world, it’s people who must build, deploy and use that software!
Why is the prevailing thought by VCs and PE firms that services sucks?! Sure, services businesses can be hard. Sure, people are harder to predict than 1s and 0s. Sure, services firms might not see the same kind of multiples as a software business. However, that doesn’t make them a bad investment. Just different. Appirio is a great example of how a services firm can still provide a great ROI for investors, and there are far more Appirios out there than you might think.
My gut, my personal fun factor, kept bringing me back to services. The question then became what should I do in the services space. Should I build another Appirio on the back of newer cloud technologies? Should I join an Appirio like firm as a COO, President? Should I invest in and combine a set of cloud services companies and join their board?
I knew I wanted to build something again, but through my VC and board experiences, I also realized how much I love helping others build as well.
Luckily, Jeff Richards and the GGV team allowed me to offroad a bit from traditional software themes while I was at the firm, and I had the opportunity to study the emerging cloud landscape. I saw the value and demand for third-wave cloud companies like HashiCorp, Twilio, Okta, Atlassian, Datadog, Snowflake, Splunk, Slack, as well as the ecosystems (or honestly, lack thereof) that supported them. We mapped out the ecosystem landscape of ~20 ISVs along with their roughly 7,500 services partners, and the opportunity slowly presented itself.
There is not a single new Appirio to be built here, but rather an opportunity to create a firm that can help scale dozens of firms across these ecosystems. An opportunity not just to deploy capital, but to provide thoughtful advice and guidance based on my own failures and successes. An opportunity to provide insight into the patterns, playbooks and best practices that can help a services company scale well past that $10M, to $100M and beyond, while connecting founders with industry experts who can provide the strategic and executional help they need.
This is why I’m so excited to introduce Tercera, our new company that is focused 100% on identifying and building the next generation of cloud professional service providers. Tercera, Spanish for third, will specialize in the third wave of cloud computing — specifically, the ISVs and their service partners who are providing the data, automation, enablement and security layer that is so critical for digital transformation.
We’re building Tercera to be a different kind of firm. Part growth equity, part advisory, part industry network. Our goal is to combine the best of these worlds to help founders gracefully scale and achieve outsized outcomes.
As of 10-15-20, Tercera has officially begun its soft launch phase. We’re already in the process of building out our team and our “neighborhood” of experts, have met with more than 40 firms across our target ecosystems. Stay tuned for our formal launch in the coming quarters, along with announcements on these first investments.
In the meantime, if you’re a third-wave professional services firm who thinks we might be a good partner for you, or an advisor who wants to join our quest, hit me up on our website or on LinkedIn.