Foreign Direct Investment

Today one of our earliest Founders’ Co-op investments — Simply Measured — announced a $20M Series C led by Karan Mehandru of Trinity Ventures. Last year the company raised an $8M Series B, led by Ethan Kurzweil of Bessemer Venture Partners. Not long after that round closed, we also participated in the first-ever raise for HasOffers, a $9.4M Series A led by Rich Wong at Accel Partners.

Beyond being great fundraises for world-class teams, what do all these fundraising events have in common? They represent important “foreign direct investment” wins for the Seattle innovation ecosystem.

We’re delighted whenever a strong local company completes a successful raise — whether we’re investors or not — because it increases the odds of yet another tech leader being built in the region. A healthy innovation ecosystem requires a critical mass of strong companies at every stage of development — thousands of early-stage startups, hundreds of growth-stage companies, dozens of mid-market companies, and several global giants — to provide a liquid and resilient market for talent and entrepreneurial wealth creation through both good times and bad.

With the collapsing cost of software innovation, a great software company can be started almost anywhere there’s a concentration of talented makers. But scaling a tech company to a dominant position in the global economy still requires massive injections of capital, and the capital markets are as concentrated as innovation markets are diffuse.

The only “full stack” capital markets functions for growth companies in North America are Sand Hill Road (for innovation-based companies) and New York (for later-stage companies of all kinds).

Building a great company anywhere begins with talent, mentorship and seed capital – ingredients available in almost any major city. But making innovation a systematic, scalable engine of long-term growth requires strong direct access to at least one of the major money centers for innovation finance.

Talent is sticky — people like to live in vibrant urban centers that feed both their careers and their social and intellectual lives — but money flows more easily, and it flows most quickly and in greatest quantity toward opportunities most likely to produce the biggest returns.

We’re lucky in Seattle to have a history of massive entrepreneurial wins — once-fragile startups that grew into massive, publicly-traded companies that dominated their categories and produced life-changing wealth for their founders, investors and early employees. But a key tenet of business (and sports) is that you’re only as good as your last game, and past performance is no guarantee of future results.

A city’s ability to attract “foreign direct investment” — strong fundraises led by well-regarded partners from leading firms in the major money centers — is a leading indicator of its future success as a global hub for innovation.

So congratulations to Simply Measured and HasOffers — and Zulily, Tableau, Avalara, Smartsheet, Socrata, Inrix, Apptio, Porch and every other Pacific Northwest startup that has attracted major injections of “foreign direct investment” from the money centers of innovation finance. You are laying the foundation of our region’s future — making it clear to the global capital markets that the talent is here, and the smart money is beating a path to its door.