The power of software is unequivocal and ScaleUp companies in Insight Partners portfolio are living proof.
In the final stages of an in-depth process to join Insight Partners in May 2019, the first thing Deven Parekh said to me was, “So tell me, do you like software?”
This is Insight. What is immediately apparent to anyone who knows the firm is that every investor and operator lives and breathes the industry that we focus on.
For 25 years Insight has been intensely focused on investing in transformational software companies. These are growth-stage ScaleUps with proven product market fit that are scaling their ability to bring enhanced workflow, business efficiency, novel capability, better security, stronger analytics, and so much more to their target users. The companies that Insight invests in are game changers, and because we invest across every facet of the software ecosystem, these software businesses, quite literally, impact every aspect of our lives.
In 1995, when Insight’s founder Jeff Horing bet on his hunch that software businesses would impact the business world more than anything prior (other than the IBM mainframe!), fewer than 40 million people were using the Internet globally. Many of the ideas and solutions were nascent and “early stage,” built on the same technological foundation, where hardware and operating systems were advancing in real time. Horing was able to see the parallels across software companies and the patterns in their growth trajectory, along with the enormous upside they would have on business efficiency. More important, as the number of Internet users skyrocketed to 361 million worldwide in 2000, and continued to grow to today’s ~3.5 billion people connected by Internet and mobile device, Insight’s leaders were able to bet on, and support, the ScaleUp software companies that have been leading this revolution.
The impact software companies can and do make has never been more apparent than in 2020.
By March 12, all of Insight (and a large portion of our investments, nay the world) was working remotely. I watched a truly devastating pandemic affect people across the globe. Despite the fact that my local supermarket had run out of some essentials, and a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle consumed far too much time, what surprised me the most as someone who is an avid office-goer, was that I could work remotely and be extremely effective. As could everyone at our firm.
From using Zoom and Microsoft Teams, along with Templafy to create on-brand content efficiently, Diligent’s Board Management product to keep board meetings running efficiently, Monday.com to keep our projects on track, or Mural to conduct our team planning sessions, it has been business as usual. In the last 8 months, Insight has invested in 25 new businesses (seven of which we have never met in person), and our ScaleUp engine of software operators, Onsite, has helped our 200+ global portfolio companies manage through the crisis, and grow out of it. This is impressive and wouldn’t have been possible without the industry that we so passionately support. Without sounding corny, software had our backs.
The software companies that make up our portfolio of investments were in high demand to protect, empower, coordinate, and facilitate a remote world. Cybersecurity businesses, like Armis and RecordedFuture, were protecting critical data as it moved into unsecured home environments, Nearpod and Illuminate Education were helping with remote learning, and Tytocare and Force Therapeutics were connecting patients and doctors.
Personally, subscription commerce businesses, like Freshly and Imperfect Foods, were (thankfully) keeping me fed. Of course, my shoutout to how software has helped me, wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Calm – the sleep and meditation app, that helped me keep my cool during periods of isolation.
In the game of life, health and business, software has been the MVP. Software kept the lights on when the streets were closed, it kept us connected and productive. The software industry also leaned in to support our communities.
What I find personally uplifting about the software sector, is not just the software itself, but the people who build it. There is a certain “corporate altruism” in innovation because all technologists and entrepreneurs are ultimately looking at how they can use technology to do “things” better. Founders are driven by doing things a little faster, making life a little less burdensome, making school a little more fun. It’s this focus on continuous improvement that makes the software industry such a dynamic and impactful industry.
From helping governments and hospitals procure desperately needed PPE equipment using logistics and data analytics software, to making education platforms free for schools and teachers who needed to navigate teaching remotely, Insight’s portfolio rolled up its sleeves and made a difference.
It feels insufficient to say that 2020 has been a life altering year. While we’ve focused on the human toll of this pandemic, I’ve seen how software helps to sustain all of us.
As someone who has grown up in the software sector, I usually work in a world of zeroes and ones, of growth metrics and data points. I rarely step back to assess the wide-reaching effect of the whole industry. This year, however, the power and the resilience of software have never more apparent, along with the heart of the people who build software to make our lives better.
This is why I created the video “The Power of Software,” because it’s clear that my answer to Deven’s question, “so tell me, do you really like software?,” was, and is, a resounding yes.