Former Salesforce exec says now is the right time to be in start-ups

Jon Suarez-Davis will serve as first chief commercial officer for Super{set} to accelerate the growth of its portfolio companies.

Super{set} has poached an executive away from Salesforce to bolster its start-up studio.

Jon Suarez-Davis, formerly senior vice-president of marketing strategy and innovation at Salesforce, has joined the San Francisco firm in the newly created role of chief commercial officer.

Photo of Jon Suarez-Davis of Super{set}
New hire: Jon Suarez-Davis of Super{set}

Super{set}, founded in 2018 by Tom Chavez and Vivek Vaidya, operates as an incubator and accelerator for data-driven companies. After closing its debut fund at $65 million in 2019, the firm closed on a $30 million opportunity fund, according to PitchBook.

“Where traditional venture firms are asset-investing companies, we’re a creator of those assets, the source of the dealflow for VCs to invest in down the line,” marketing lead Nick Kessler told Venture Capital Journal. “Everyone we’re hiring is an operator. We’re trying to give people an opportunity to maximize their impact, maximize their wealth and minimize the risk in the process.”

Suarez-Davis, also known as JSD, previously worked with Chavez and Vaidya at Krux, a cloud-based marketing data company the pair co-founded in 2010. Krux was acquired by Salesforce in 2016 and integrated into its marketing suite. At that time, Suarez-Davis stepped into his role as senior VP and chief strategy officer for the Salesforce marketing cloud and Vaidya joined as CTO and senior VP of engineering for the Salesforce data management platform.

As chief commercial officer at Super{set}, a role he designed, Suarez-Davis will focus on finding new markets for the firm’s portfolio companies. “It’s really a combination of marketing and sales,” he told VCJ. “Upper funnel, understanding the macro environment, the white space, where to play, how to win, and then also taking that all the way through to commercialization and really accelerating the go-to-market for our portfolio companies.”

In a blog post on Super{set}’s website, Suarez-Davis reiterated the question he’s been asked most frequently since leaving Salesforce: “You’re leaving Big Tech? In this economy?” He answered with a three-part explanation, mentioning the recent waves of layoffs in the tech industry, his previous experience as an operator and the adage that “fortune favors the bold.”

“If you just look at the last 20 years, like the dotcom crash, or 2008, talent was really kicked to the curb, there weren’t jobs,” he told VCJ. “What we have here in 2022 going into 2023 is, with these big tech layoffs, these are incredibly talented people and there are jobs all over the world. I’m really excited about being able to identify that talent, bring it in and have the right soil conditions to let them grow and build. There’s honestly nothing better than being able to provide these conditions and see people build something, it’s very fulfilling on multiple levels.”

Suarez-Davis also pointed to the quality of Super{set}’s co-investors as validation of the firm’s strategy and a reason for his joining. Across 14 investments, the firm has participated in seed to Series B rounds alongside Intel Capital, Greycroft, Norwest Venture Partners and Silicon Valley Bank, among others.

As for Super{set}’s approach to investing, he believes the start-up studio’s “human touch” makes it unique. “We’re operators, we’re sleeve-roller-uppers, and that’s one of the unique things about Super{set},” he said. “It’s a founder mentality because all of us were, and still are, just that – founders. It’s about the craft, and it manifests itself in the funds, in the portfolio companies, in the initiatives, in the causes that the people in the firm support outside of their professional careers. It’s a steel thread that needs to be pulled all the way through.”

Correction: The first and second paragraph of this story have been changed to clarify that Super{set} raised an opportunity fund. The firm is not currently fundraising.