In 2019, we decided to break off on our own and fully dedicate our time, resources, and some of our own capital to launching Acadian Ventures. “HR Tech” is a $40-billion global market attracting nearly $4 billion of new venture capital every year. We believe a tremendous opportunity exists to specialize an early-stage venture fund dedicated to supporting the next-generation of companies redefining the “Future of Work.” How we work has become increasingly digital, distributed, complex, and constant and the new tools we need to support the modern workforce are being invented right now! Our mission is to invest in companies transforming work and leveraging technology to make everyone’s working life simpler, better, and more productive.
In 2014, we founded one of the first corporate venture funds focused on cloud-based enterprise software. Cornerstone Innovation Fund, the corporate venture capital (CVC) for Cornerstone OnDemand, launched as a $30-million early-stage fund dedicated to investing in and collaborating with the next generation of cloud startups. We produced some notable exits including Rallyteam, Portfolium, and acquired one portfolio companies ourselves, Workpop. We are proud of our success rate. Of our initial portfolio, 63% of the companies have exited and the remaining companies are either profitable or growing rapidly.
We had the pleasure of working with some amazing entrepreneurs and invested along and collaborated with some of the great venture capital firms Bessemer Venture Partners, First Round Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Lowercase Capital , Upfront Ventures, and Norwest Venture Partners. Corporate venture capital was our master class in venture capital investing.
During the same time we launched the Cornerstone Accelerator, an accelerator program to nurture local startups in Los Angeles. We also launched the LA Tech Summit, the largest technology conference in Los Angeles, bringing together city leaders, founders, entrepreneurs, VCs and being Hollywood, even some celebrities.
The HRTech market was on fire. SuccessFactors and Taleo were newly public companies, Workday was a rising star, and Cornerstone OnDemand was emerging as the cloud leader in HCM. It was time to jump on the rocket ship and do something new — join a product company.
I joined Cornerstone as the company was going public and CEO Adam Miller and I a one-sentence job description. Cornerstone was an adventure where I had the opportunity to lead and manage a few acquisitions, build and nurture some important partnerships, kickstart some new strategic initiatives in AI, platform, and content, and lead a global marketing team. The company was $50M in revenue and 300 employees when I started and my seven-year ride taught me how to scale a global cloud company.
How do HR executives make decisions on technology? I wanted to find out. I joined former PeopleSoft executives to rethink how companies should assess their human capital management strategy, manage change, and embrace new emerging technologies.
At Knowledge Infusion (now Alight Solutions) we helped large enterprise clients build long-term roadmaps to transform their people strategy. I worked with great clients like Nike, Dell, and Starbucks to help them better understand “the cloud” and decide which technologies could drive change and new way to work.
After surviving the dot-com crash, I decided to sell our belongings and move across the country from San Francisco to Boston. I was about to begin a journey as an industry analyst at Yankee Group, a job in which I had no experience nor any understanding of the role.
In a short time, I learned how to size markets, evaluate companies, and recognized the qualities it takes CEOs to build sustainable companies. During this time, I watched Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri publicly launch Workday (in Boston), spent time with Lars Dalgaard, CEO of SuccessFactors (now SAP), when they were just 30 employees working out of Greylock’s offices and met Adam Miller, CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand when they had fewer than two dozen customers (now more than 3,500!)