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Why We Invested in Textio

We are excited to announce Emergence Capital's Series A investment in Textio, a bold company developing a platform that improves how we write.  This investment is particularly energizing for me, as it reflects my long-standing interest in advancing communication.    When we think about the modern worker, about 10% of time is spent with specialized applications and 90% is free-form communication through speech and written text.  However, for the first decade of enterprise cloud investing, we have been focusing on the 10% -- creating form-based functional applications such as Salesforce.   While these applications are powerful, I have continued to search for companies focused on the 90%.  For the last several years I have been following the advancements in natural language processing, thinking about how machine learning can allow us to start tackling the broader challenge of optimizing all verbal and written communication.

With this thesis in mind, I was excited when my partner Alison Wagonfeld said, “You have to meet the Textio co-founders! You are going to love their vision for a platform that improves documents as they are being written.”  Alison had met Kieran Snyder and Jensen Harris through her friend Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures -- Aileen knew about Emergence’s focus on enterprise cloud companies, and we are so appreciative that she helped connect Textio with our firm.

When I met Kieran and Jensen over a cup of coffee in San Francisco, I could tell within 5 minutes that they were tackling the kind of opportunity that I seek out as a venture investor.  As soon as I saw them demo how free-form text could “light up” with in-line suggestions, I knew I was looking at a new user experience, and I knew this team was special.  Kieran’s background in linguistics combined with Jensen’s expertise in user interface design made for an ideal founding team.  Textio’s initial product was designed around optimizing job descriptions, and within days our team was “scoring” all of our job descriptions.  We started talking to Textio customers such as Twitter and Microsoft, and they raved about how Textio had completely changed how they write. We could see the potential for how Textio could positively impact all kinds of business writing.

The more time we spent with Kieran and Jensen, the more excited we became.  After each interaction we were buzzing with ideas.  Just before closing on our investment, Aileen, Alison and I flew up to Seattle to have our first strategy session.  We also met Textio’s incredibly impressive initial team, all working out of the living room in Textio’s first office/apartment.   We appreciate varied “superpowers” in founding teams, and we are excited by their diversity in backgrounds, talents and approaches. We are also looking forward to working more closely with Aileen and Textio’s other seed investors, including Roy Bahat at Bloomberg Beta and Kent Goldman at Upside.

At Emergence Capital, we seek out entrepreneurs who share our passion for Enterprise Next, and Textio represents a wonderful example of our focused investment strategy. We see so much potential, and we are excited to be on this journey together with Kieran, Jensen and the extended Textio team!