Joe Montana prepares for biggest windfall as a venture capitalist ahead of GitLab's $10 billion IPO

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Joseph "Joe" Montana, co-founder of iMFL and retired National Football League (NFL) quarterback, speaks during an interrogation successful San Francisco, California, U.S. connected Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

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Joe Montana won his archetypal Super Bowl arsenic an NFL backmost successful 1982. Almost 4 decades later, he's astir to get his archetypal IPO arsenic a task capitalist.

Montana, who led the San Francisco 49ers to 4 Super Bowl victories and was inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame successful 2000, has spent the past six years investing successful start-ups done his firm, Liquid 2 Ventures. He started with a $28 cardinal fund, and is present closing his 3rd money that's astir 3 times bigger.

One of Liquid 2's archetypal investments was announced successful July 2015, erstwhile a codification repository called GitLab raised a $1.5 cardinal effect circular aft going done the Y Combinator incubator program. GitLab's valuation astatine the clip was astir $12 million, and different participants successful the financing included Khosla Ventures and Ashton Kutcher.

On Thursday, GitLab is set to debut connected the Nasdaq with a marketplace headdress of astir $10 billion, based connected a $69 stock price, the precocious extremity of its range. Montana's archetypal $100,000 investment, on with immoderate follow-on funding, is worthy astir $42 cardinal astatine that price.

"We're each beauteous pumped," Montana, 65, said successful an interrogation this week, portion vacationing successful Italy. "This is going to beryllium a monster for us."

Joe Montana #16 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates aft they scored against the Cincinnati Bengals during Super Bowl XVI connected January 24, 1982 astatine the Silverdome successful Pontiac, Michigan. The Niners won the Super Bowl 26 -21.

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While celebrated athletes dabbling successful start-ups has go a inclination successful Silicon Valley — from NBA stars Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala to tennis fable Serena Williams — Montana jumped into the crippled overmuch earlier. Prior to Liquid 2, Montana was progressive with a steadfast called HRJ, which was founded by ex-49ers stars Harris Barton and Ronnie Lott.

HRJ, which invested successful different funds alternatively than straight into companies, collapsed successful 2009 and was sued for allegedly failing to conscionable its fiscal commitments.

But alternatively than instrumentality to the athletics that brought him fame successful an enforcement relation oregon arsenic a broadcaster, similar truthful galore chap all-star quarterbacks, Montana stuck with investing. This clip helium took overmuch a antithetic route.

Convinced by Ron Conway

Ron Conway, the Silicon Valley ace angel known for lucrative bets connected Google, Facebook and Airbnb, started showing Montana astir the satellite of early-stage investing, chiefly done Y Combinator. Montana, on with a increasing harvest of effect investors and celebrities, would attended Y Combinator Demo Days, wherever entrepreneurs amusement slides of their companies with maturation that's ever up and to the right.

"We were trying to spot what their concealed condiment was and who they looked astatine and what they were truly looking for successful early-stage companies," Montana said referring to Conway and his team. "He started taking america there, and we started doing a fistful of investments present and there, and past helium talked maine into starting a fund."

In 2015, Conway was speaking to the latest radical of founders successful the Y Combinator program, and helium invited Montana to be the event. That's wherever Montana met GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij, a Dutch entrepreneur who had turned an open-source task for helping developers collaborate connected codification into a institution that was packaging the bundle and selling it to businesses.

"We got together, and said, 'hey this is simply a peculiar guy,'" Montana said. "We committed that night."

GitLab had conscionable travel retired of Y Combinator. In his presentation astatine Demo Day that March, Sijbrandij told the assemblage that his institution had 10 employees on with 800 contributors moving connected the open-source project. GitLab was connected gait for yearly income of $1 million, helium said, and paying customers included Apple, Cisco, Disney and Microsoft.

GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij astatine institution lawsuit successful London


GitLab present employs implicit 1,350 radical successful much than 65 countries, according to its prospectus. As it prepares to deed the nationalist marketplace connected Thursday, GitLab's annualized gross is implicit $230 million. Sales successful the 2nd 4th jumped 69% to $58.1 million

However, due to the fact that GitLab spends the equivalent of three-quarters of its gross connected income and marketing, the institution recorded a nett nonaccomplishment of $40.2 cardinal successful the latest quarter. Much of the selling fund is focused connected expanding its DevOps (the operation of bundle improvement and IT operations) idiosyncratic base.

"To thrust caller lawsuit growth, we mean to proceed investing successful income and marketing, with a absorption connected replacing DIY DevOps wrong larger organizations," the institution said successful the prospectus.

'Still listening to pitches'

For Montana, GitLab marks his firm's archetypal IPO, though helium said "we person 12 oregon 13 much unicorns successful the portfolio," referring to start-ups valued astatine $1 cardinal oregon more. They see Anduril, the defence exertion institution led by by Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, and autonomous conveyance investigating start-up Applied Intuition.

Montana has 3 different partners successful the firm: Mike Miller, who co-founded Cloudant and sold it to IBM; Michael Ma, who sold a start-up to Google and became a merchandise manager there; and Nate Montana, Joe's son, who antecedently worked astatine Twitter.

Montana said he's progressive successful the money connected a day-to-day ground and attends the spouse meetings each Tuesday. He said his partners, who are much experienced successful technology, grip overmuch of the method diligence and sourcing of deals, portion helium focuses connected helping portfolios with connections successful his network.

"Until the pandemic, I was inactive speaking astir the country," Montana said, adding that helium didn't commencement taking a wage until the 3rd fund. "I was retired speaking to companies similar SAP, Amex, Visa and a batch of ample corporations, similar ample security firms down to Burger King."

Specific to GitLab, Montana said helium connected Sijbrandij aboriginal connected with a elder enforcement astatine Visa, erstwhile the institution was looking to bash a woody with the outgo processor.

"I'm inactive listening to pitches, I spell to pitches and bash each that," Montana said. "But my clip is amended spent present helping with connecting these companies arsenic they mature."

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