On the Bleeding Edge: Shasta promotes Mullins, Deeter’s IPO prowess and Sapphire’s SportsTech Fund

Jacob Mullins, who joined Shasta Ventures late last year, was quietly promoted to partner from principal. His bio on the firm’s website changed this week to reflect the new title. I reached out to Mullins earlier in the week but haven’t heard back. UPDATE: After I posted this mid-day on Friday, Shasta confirmed that it promoted three to partner: Mullins, Nikhil Basu Trivedi and Nitin Chopra. The firm, which raised $320 million for its fifth fund last year, has six managing directors listed on its website: Rob Coneybeer, Sean Flynn, Tod Francis, Ravi Mohan, Doug Pepper and Jason Pressman.

In September, I wrote about Mullins and the firm’s launch of its Shasta Camera Fund. It’ll make seed and pre-seed investments in computer-vision technologies from its fifth fund. As a principal, Mullins announced the fund and said all the firm’s partners will invest from the carved-out Camera Fund. But he is leading the efforts and has been meeting with companies as he hosts VRTuesday Meetups.

Camera Fund VC
Photo of Jacob Mullins courtesy of Shasta Ventures.

Another VC community member to get promoted recently is Meg Sloan at Foundation Capital. Sloan now carries the title of marketing and operations partner, according to a change she made this month on her LinkedIn profile. I reached out Sloan to ask what’s behind the role change from the marketing-partner position she held for previous two years. Before she joined Foundation in 2014, Sloan held various senior marketing roles at Facebook.

Cloud-computing investor Byron Deeter has had quite an IPO run lately. The latest for the partner at Bessemer Venture Partners was SendGrid. The Denver email marketing company began trading (Nasdaq: SEND) Nov. 15, raising $131.2 million in an expanded IPO. So far, investors have taken well to the offering, sending the shares up and helping the company come within striking distance of the vaunted $1 billion valuation.

SendGrid had previously raised $80 million in venture funding from Bessemer and a number of others, including Uncork Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Foundry Group and others. Interesting to note, however, that for Deeter, who has served on SendGrid’s board since 2011, the company’s public-market exit represents his seventh cloud-related IPO in six years. The PR machine behind Bessemer says that’s more than any other VC, and I’d have to agree. Bessemer Partner Ethan Kurzweil, by the way, has also served as a board observer since 2011.

One fund attracting my attention recently was Sapphire Ventures, which is raising a $100 million sports-tech fund, according to a regulatory filing. The firm is seeking to raise $100 million for what it calls the SportsTech Fund. It has yet to report a first close, and its partners include Sapphire Managing Directors Nino Marakovic, Jai Das, David Hartwig, Doug Higgins and Andreas Weiskam.

I reached out to Sapphire for more details about the SportsTech Fund. No response as yet. But suffice to say it didn’t surprise me. Sports tech is a niche but hot sector. In October, I participated in Sapphire’s third annual CIO Summit at the Rosewood Cordevalle in San Jose, California. The event’s final keynote featured Ferran Soriano, CEO of City Football Group, whose teams include Manchester City FC and New York City FC. In introducing him, Sapphire said that it was interested in the combination of sports, business and technology and that a digital transformation is taking place in sports, media and entertainment.

Soriano was a good speaker and I enjoyed hearing his business lessons that come from the world of sports. If he becomes an adviser or somehow involved in Sapphire’s SportsTech Fund, I wouldn’t be disappointed. Here is a link to a YouTube video of him giving his keynote at the CIO Summit.

Photo of VCJ editor Alastair Goldfisher for VCJ.