Ignition raises $150M fund, opens Silicon Valley office, to back enterprise IT

Ignition Partners' Frank Artale.

More evidence that boring enterprise IT is not so boring anymoreIgnition Partners has launched (and already closed) a new $150 million fund focused on technologies that businesses will buy and implement.

enterprise ITThe Bellevue, Wash.-based early-stage VC firm will also open an office in Palo Alto, Calif. to better attack these opportunities, said Frank Artale, general partner who will run this new fund, informally dubbed Ignition V. The company brought on Nick Sturiale, a new partner, to run that office.

“We think that businesses and people who work in businesses have been largely underserved for the past 15 years,”  Artale said in a recent interview.

The goal of the dual offices is to promote cross-pollination and collaboration. “We want to do real social networking here — not just Facebook stuff,” Artale added. “Palo Alto and the Bay Area are super important as great entrepreneurial engines — Cisco, Oracle and other companies down there spit out great entrepreneurs.”

Goal: Apps that combine consumer ease of use with enterprise utility

Ignition has some credibility in the enterprise. Several team members — including Artale, John Connors, and Cameron Myhrvold — are former Microsoft executives. And previous investments include Cloudera, Splunk, Zenprise, DocuSign, Opscode, Parse and Bromium.

New enterprise applications have to work well and look good on laptops and PCs, but also on tablets and phones as the consumerization of IT trend continues, he said.

Artale which described the new fund as “slightly oversubscribed”  took three months to fund. Investors include new and existing university endowments, pension funds and investment companies. Ignition V is smaller than the previous fund, which weighed in at $400 million but will also focus more — eschewing investments in telecom and consumer internet companies, Artale said.

The notion that enterprise IT is back as a hot category is cropping up all over. New vendors — large and small — are building consumer-grade products but for business use. Pivotal Initiative chief Paul Maritz spoke in depth about this at the recent Structure: Data conference in New York and the topic will doubtless crop up again at Structure in San Francisco in June.


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