Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle-based investment firm known for its big bets on companies like Amazon and Redfin, is expanding to the Bay Area.
The company announced Tuesday that it is opening its first office outside of the Pacific Northwest in Palo Alto, Calif.
After 27 years of investing in Northwest startups, the company recently backed “accelerating stage” companies in California, Utah, Illinois, Ohio and New York, she wrote. in a blog post announcing the new office. Recognizing that “proximity is important to building a business,” Madrona is poised to expand its footprint outside the region.
Karan Mehandru, venture capitalist and new chief executive of Madrona, will lead the Palo Alto site.
“With our roots firmly planted in Seattle and the PNW, we will continue to double down on our differentiated network in Seattle while expanding our footprint and network in California and beyond,” Mehandru wrote in a statement, adding that the company “builds a deep bench of investors, entrepreneurs and advisors” with expertise in machine learning, artificial intelligence, data infrastructure, computational biology and the future of work.
Founded in 1995, Madrona celebrated its 25th anniversary with a $500 million fund two years ago, its largest to date. The funds were split between two groups of companies: early-stage Pacific Northwest-based companies and North American companies that had perfected their product and were focused on scaling.
The investment company was co-founded by William Ruckelshaus – the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and former acting director of the FBI – Paul Goodrich, Jerry Grinstein and Tom Alberg, a lawyer and writer well known for his first investments in Amazon.
Alberg, who died Aug. 5, is often credited with helping usher in a wave of innovation in Seattle. Through Madrona, he has supported and guided Redfin, the enterprise management software company Apptio, and Impinj, the manufacturer of radio frequency identification devices and software. But it wasn’t all big hits, he told the Seattle Times in a 2015 interview.
“You have to be willing to take a risk,” Alberg said. “And you hedge against that partly by not making two investments a year but making eight investments a year.”
Now, “tech-driven innovation in PNW is still day one,” Madrona wrote in her blog post on Tuesday. And we’re “excited to help outstanding founders based here build their businesses from day one to long term.”