Storm Ventures adds Willard, names Penmetsa a partner, is said to plan fund

Enterprise-focused, early-stage investor Storm Ventures has added Paul Willard as a partner and has promoted Arun Penmetsa to partner.

Separately, a source familiar with the matter said Storm would raise a new fund this year, with a first close likely in Q2. The target on the planned sixth fund and other details couldn’t be learned.

Willard most recently was one of two partners of Subtraction Capital, a $20 million fund he launched with Jason Portnoy in 2013. Before Subtraction, Willard was CMO of health-records-management company Practice Fusion and software developer Atlassian. And he was vice president of marketing at

Storm Co-Founder and Managing Director Ryan Floyd, who announced the addition of Willard in a Medium blog post on Wednesday night, told VCJ that Willard’s background fits in perfectly with the firm’s emphasis on backing enterprise startups.

“Paul is a great fit, considering his diverse background and his vast network of contacts,” Floyd said. “He’s invested in a range of companies and we look forward to the opportunities.”

Willard tells VCJ that at Storm he’ll focus on enterprise software, AI and he expects to look at healthtech. Another area he will focus on is robotics. He calls Robotics as a Service, or RaaS, the new SaaS.

“The classic idea of robotics is using them on an assembly line for manufacturing,” Willard said. “But more robotics in everyday life are coming.”

As a reference, he pointed to two robotics companies that Subtraction backed: Cobalt Robotics, which provides indoor-security robots, and Zipline, maker of a drone delivery system that brings medicines and vaccines to remote geographies.

Willard said he’s been working alongside the firm in its Menlo Park office, attending meetings in the past year, while getting to know the team. He officially started there Jan. 1.

Floyd confirmed the promotion of Penmetsa to partner from principal. He said LPs have been informed, although the firm has not yet publicly announced the move.

Penmetsa, who joined Storm in 2014, focuses on early-stage enterprise SaaS companies, primarily security, artificial intelligence and digital-health startups.

While a a principal, Penmetsa worked on such deals at Storm as ShoCard, TriSTAR Technology, Rallyteam,, Lexigram and Careskore.

Willard and Penmetsa join Floyd and Co-Founder and Managing Director Tae Hea Nahm. The investing team also includes Principal Pascale Diaine and Associate Frederik Groce.

Diaine came on board in February 2017 after founding and leading San Francisco startup accelerator Orange Fab. Groce, a graduate of Stanford University, has been with the firm since early 2016.

Essentially, Willard and Penmetsa fill seats vacated by two Storm co-founders who previously stepped back.

As VCJ previously reported, Sanjay Subhedar and Alex Mendez are not part of the firm’s current fifth fund, which closed at its hard cap of $180 million in 2015. LPs included Los Angeles County Employees’ Retirement Association.

Floyd, Nahm, Subhedar and Mendez worked together at wide area network startup Stratacom before launching Storm Ventures in 2000.

File photo of Paul Willard.