Mumbai: Salesforce Ventures, the corporate venture investment arm of US-based technology company Salesforce Inc., is keen to evaluate investment opportunities in India, said a senior executive of the venture firm.
“We have been having conversations with other VCs that have a presence in India and San Francisco. We are present in Japan and Australia, currently, in the Asia Pacific region. But Asia Pacific is growing fast and so we are looking at other places, too. We follow the Salesforce infrastructure and as Salesforce builds out its presence in a market, we follow," said Matt Garratt, managing partner, Salesforce Ventures, on the sidelines of Dreamforce 2018, an annual tech conference organized by the San Francisco-based Salesforce, which was held in the last week of September.
“We are seeing that motion build-up in India and we are having more conversations," said Garratt, adding that the firm is evaluating the right investment strategy. “India is a place where we will be making more trips going ahead."
Salesforce Ventures has invested in over 275 companies across 17 countries and has been investing since 2009.
“The way we think about how we invest, is that we start to sort of follow into the key countries where we are selling into. So, we do not tend to invest ahead of where Salesforce is as a company for a particular area," said Garratt, who was part of a panel at the event.
“But once they start to go in, we say how we can put a wrapper around that and provide a bigger, more localized solution. And that’s often the case when you go into new regions. Especially in regulated regions, it becomes even increasingly more important to have this ecosystem of partners to wrap around."
We generally start investing ahead a little bit, and when we build a certain amount of momentum we put in an investment professional there, he added.
Salesforce Ventures invests in sectors such as technology, financial services, healthcare and life sciences. Some of its investments include Dropbox Inc., Evernote and SurveyMonkey.
The company currently has several active funds, including the $100 million EMEA Fund, which uses to make investments in Europe and Israel, and a $50 million AI (artificial intelligence) Innovation Fund, among others.
Application of technologies such as AI and machine learning (ML) to automate processes and workflows is an area of key interest for the corporate venture firm.
“We continue to see a lot of trends around how you are using technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning and applying more automation to processes and workflows—like being able to detect fraud (or) identify someone quickly—these are huge. And a lot of these things, to be able to do them, there is still a lot of data engineering and data analytics that has to happen to make that work. So, we continue to spend a lot of time on companies that are doing that to enable these."
According to Garratt, enterprise software, an area where Salesforce Venture has a major focus, is seeing wider dispersion of capital, with more tech companies and start-ups setting up shop in geographies beyond Silicon Valley and San Francisco.
“From a capital flow perspective, last year, over half of the companies that we invested in were outside California. One of the things that we have been seeing for a while, particularly the European enterprise companies, they were all coming to San Francisco, when they were looking to raise a large Series B. Now, they are moving to New York and to some extent to Boston."
Garrat said: “You have seen repeated exits in Canada, for instance, where in Toronto, there have been enough initial public offers and exits in companies in cities like Indianapolis, Boulder, where you also have large tech companies that are building offices there."
“You have this dynamic that is making capital and talent get more dispersed talent more dispersed. So, on an absolute basis, San Francisco is going to continue to grow, but at a relative basis, the rest of the world is growing at a faster pace," he added.