the next generation of enterprise applications will look very different than today

 

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for years, we’ve heard CIOs grouse about the fact that at least 80% of their IT budgets are locked up just “keeping the lights on.” this means that money dedicated to delivering real business innovation is limited to somewhere between 5% and 20% of their resources – simply not enough to compete in hyperactive competitive markets.
and what does “keeping the lights on” really mean, anyway? companies have spent years investing in enterprise applications like Oracle, Siebel, and Peoplesoft that yes, really do run the business. the problem is that these applications were designed and built long before clouds, containers and the concept of microservices were available. these applications were built in monolithic blocks that are nearly impossible to move to new infrastructure or storage options without lots of time and effort. and the applications are hard to upgrade since updating even one small portion means rebuilding and retesting the entire thing. managing the various versions of the discrete application modules and the resulting testing permutations can be quite challenging. it’s no wonder that enterprise applications are updated only twice a year at most.
even when you spend the money to move enterprise applications into cloud infrastructure, CIOs are wary of vendor lock-in, the notion that you’re stuck with a particular cloud vendor that may jack up their prices once your applications are trapped in their product.
changing this paradigm is hard and usually involves lots of time and money, at least until now.

meet appOrbit.

appOrbit has just come out of stealth mode to unveil its application platform that is used to holistically manage the development, testing, delivery and management of all kinds of enterprise applications, including legacy systems like the ones noted above. think of appOrbit as VMware for applications. appOrbit provides the same kind of transformation for applications that VMware provided for infrastructure.
appOrbit can be used to modernize legacy applications, but it’s also useful for developing net new cloud-native applications and dramatically accelerating test-dev environments as well.
using the appOrbit platform buys enterprise IT organizations quite a bit.

complete portability, without code change. enterprise applications can be abstracted and separated from any dependency on underlying infrastructure, including sources of data. it’s now possible to move applications to different infrastructure combinations, without changing a single line of code. with complete portability between cloud environments, container tools and servers, IT organizations can break vendor lock-in and gain the flexibility required to move their applications to cloud vendors that offer the best combination of price, performance, reliability and features.
accelerated release cycles. with appOrbit, enterprise applications can be blueprinted, abstracted into smaller, portable components and stored in a virtualized catalog in minutes. the components can then be cloned, reassembled and deployed with a few clicks using a very slick user interface. this saves a ton of time for development and testing teams that up to now have spent weeks simply trying to recreate production applications and production data for upgrade and QA. using appOrbit speeds up release cycles and when release cycles accelerate, so does the opportunity to innovate.
seamless upgrades. when you adopt the appOrbit approach to portable components, you can actually update production applications on the fly, without taking them down. this means you can continue to run the business without interruption and with very low risk of an embarrassing outage.
data and security included. the appOrbit platform doesn’t just make code portable, it takes care of data and security as well. enterprise applications can now run on any infrastructure, but leverage any data storage options as well. IT organizations can then take advantage of the latest and best storage options without changing a single line of code in the application. application-level security policies can also be automatically included and deployed, reducing risk and ensuring consistent security coverage.
DevOps friendly. appOrbit, breaks apart monolithic enterprise applications into smaller components that can then act as independent services. this gives IT organizations the flexibility to upgrade and automatically deploy individual components through standard DevOps processes and orchestration tools.
the appOrbit team has come up with something truly unique. the real winners here will be enterprises that want to move 10X faster and convert “keep the lights on” budget into innovation budget. appOrbit has done the smart thing by quietly proving its technology with more than 24 customers including Ericsson, Prospect Medical and Infosys before launching the company this week. i’m excited to see the next chapter of the company unfold.
enterprise applications just met the 21st century!

document storage – welcome to the 21st century

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what’s your best estimate of how much space it takes to store paper records and documents in the US today?

  • 5 acres
  • 20 acres
  • 100 acres

while all of these options represent a lot of real estate, in fact the storage of paper records utilizes 8000 acres of land — the equivalent of 6000 football fields, #small cities or the state of Delaware. now that’s a massive amount of space that could be more productively used than for storing paper. not to mention that warehousing records this way is very expensive, makes them difficult to retrieve and search, and poses a security risk.

yet the scale of the problem also reveals the need. every year, U.S. companies have to archive millions of records for up to 7-15 years to meet legal, compliance, tax and other business requirements. extrapolate demand for document storage over the next decade and you can see that the old fashioned, paper-based real estate solution is simply unsustainable.

the market needs innovation

since its inception just after World War II, the records and information market has seen little if any evolution of the business in spite of significant advances in computing and robotics. providers still store paper in cardboard boxes and use planes, trains and automobiles to transport data back to the customer. i would bet that it takes just as long to pull a record from storage today as it did in the 1950s. change has not occurred because there are misaligned incentives in the market. the current providers operate as REITs and as a REIT, performance is measured by tenant occupancy rates. think of these services as landlords and the boxes of records they store as their “tenants” where the incentive is to keep these boxes on the rent roll. a box of records that is digitized is a box that is no longer a tenant.

that said change has been hard. up until now, customers have had 2 sub-optimal options when doing paper records conversion:

  1. they can digitize in-house. this is costly, time consuming, and risky. what company wants to staff up internally to scan records? even when they do scan internally, they still have to hire multiple vendors to do the value-added stuff like shredding, indexing, uploading to a digital repository, and integrating to their other enterprise systems.
  2. customers could use their existing records warehousing vendor to quarterback the entire project. not only is this costly (customers pay upwards of $1200/box) but it’s slow because existing records vendors still use human labor to do the digitization.

as enterprises migrate business applications to the cloud, what they want is to store data as 1s and 0s, not pulp, and have it transported instantly over fiber, not highways.

meet Ripcord

one company that has figured out a better way to address the $25B paper records market is Ripcord, a company in which kleiner perkins has just invested $9.5m in the Series A round.

Ripcord is transforming the traditional records management industry by using robots and AI to scan paper records, make them searchable on the cloud and integrate them into existing enterprise systems. it works like this: when Ripcord scans a box of records, it knows where that box came from, who was the owner, how old the records are, and what type of records are inside the box (legal files, HR files, medical files, etc). once on Ripcord’s platform, the system learns to auto-categorize records, to identify anomalies, and in general to help customers better manage their records. Ripcord’s robotics have also been able to overcome some simple but significant logistical challenges such as removing paper clips from documents and avoiding copying mistakes by grabbing multiple sheets at one time.

as with all businesses that are disrupted, the primary beneficiary will be the customer who, using services like Ripcord, will save up to 10x what they would have spent on traditional document storage and derive faster access, utility and security for digitized records. customers aren’t waiting in line. It sometimes takes startups years to find product-market fit but as a testament to how badly needed this service is, Ripcord had large customers signing up before they were done with their production work-cell. document storage welcome to the 21st century!

buddying up to another series a

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for the past year, many of the smartest investors and pundits i follow have claimed some variant of the following: the mobile market for apps is maturing. they’re probably mostly right, as it’s hard to drive distribution on either platform (for different reasons), the venture appetite to take on such risk has been satiated,  so much of the echo chamber has moved on to new exciting platforms like virtual reality, automobiles, space, and beyond.

 

don’t get me wrong, vr, cars, and space are all fascinating areas — but, as a long-time software engineer dating back to palm all the way to twitter, to me mobile hasn’t yet matured. it may never mature, what with billions of people worldwide who will come online over the next decade, new features (as recent as google instant apps), and interesting overseas forks of android, especially in asia. put another way, one investor’s maturing market is another investor’s contrarian gold.

 

it is with that backdrop that i’m thrilled to announce that kleiner perkins is leading a $7.6m series a investment in buddybuild. in my role as a gp with kleiner, I’ll be joining dennis pilarinos, the ceo, on the bod of the company.

 

to perhaps (oversimplify) the pitch, buddybuild is both innovative and demonstrably useful in that it empowers developers with a unified process for building, testing, deploying, and collecting feedback on their mobile apps. in a pre-buddybuild world, developers had to cobble together and maintain disparate environments for each function, causing fragmentation which compounded at scale. to generate the positive response they have so far, buddybuild is of course fast, easy to use, and has simplified the development lifecycle. the proof is in the customer base, both big and small companies, which have found this platform to be their best buddy — sorry @buddybuild– in their quest for a seamless, iterative development environment at scale.

 

i’m excited to head back to vancouver more often now and reconnect with old friends. the founder of buddybuild, dennis, & i worked together many years ago at microsoft, and it is a rare pleasure to be able to so effortlessly support a colleague and friend again. we’re lucky to have that opportunity at kleiner perkins, and thanks to our new friends at buddybuild for making it a reality. vancouver, here we come!

reimagining marketing in a mobile world

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mobile devices have eclipsed desktops, laptops and other devices, becoming our primary method for engaging with the digital world. for the first time, smartphones in 2015 accounted for over half of all hours US adults spent viewing digital media. not only have smartphones become central to our daily lives, they are our most intimate devices. recent surveys show that for the vast majority of millennials their smartphone never leaves their side, day or night; and it’s the first thing they reach for in the morning (87% and 80% respectively). it’s no surprise then that businesses need to reach their customers on mobile, where they’re spending most of their time. and with smartphone users spending 4-8x more time in mobile apps than mobile web, their preference for apps is clear.

 
while being at the center of our digital lives presents unmatched opportunities for businesses – and the customers that patronize them – there are also challenges. mobile devices present a smaller form factor, vertical vs. horizontal orientation, and different input methods. any design or user experience (ux) detriment is amplified; thus mobile apps must be well-designed. If a user can’t quickly access the information they’re seeking or accomplish their intended task, they will find another app that can. businesses’ mobile apps must deliver the right, well-designed experience to the right user at the right time.

 
at the same time, marketers are faced with mastering this new platform. mobile’s appeal extends beyond being the place where their customers spend most of their digital time. the ever-present, constantly-connected nature of mobile devices allows businesses to reach customers nearly anytime, but requires a different mindset. it’s no longer about keeping eyeballs on your site. rather marketers must understand and then engage customers at opportune times to help them satisfy their need. this distills down to getting the right message to the right customer at the right time. when you put all of this together, a new type of solution is needed that works across the entire lifecycle of mobile users. design and ux options must be tested and their tradeoffs understood. personalized experiences within the app are needed to delight users and help them quickly accomplish what they need to. users receive tailored messages at their time of need, instilling additional delight and illustrating how businesses can satisfy their need. lastly, advanced analytics are required to drive all of these – because you can’t optimize what you can’t measure. we found a remarkable team delivering such a solution to their customers. this is why we invested in Leanplum.

Leanplum provides an enterprise saas platform for mobile lifecycle marketing, driving engagement and results across the full customer journey. it spans personalized messaging, ux optimization, a/b testing and analytics. in web, each of these areas has given rise to material companies, so you would expect a startup tackling them all would face quite a challenge. to our surprise we found Leanplum excelled in each, even compared to other solutions focused on only one. it turns out there is a reason for this: there is a synergy between the functional pillars. to optimize user experience – both in determining the best approach (a/b testing) and ongoing personalization – you need a robust analytical ability to understand users and tradeoffs among different approaches. armed with this analytical ability, a natural extension is to use this information to optimize the user experience outside of the app – to inform and engage users through targeted, personalized messages.

we’re all delighted by quicker, easier mobile experiences and expect such from the products and services we consume. businesses offering these products and services need to get the right message – and well-designed experience – to the right customer at the right time. an outstanding team at Leanplum is empowering businesses to engage and delight mobile users across the entire customer journey. this is marketing reimagined for our most used and personal device.

mike abbott and creighton hicks – partners@kpcb

 

meet KPCB Edge – seed VC for builders, by builders

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i’m excited to announce Edge, a new seed stage initiative backed by KPCB that is launching today. at its core, Edge is attempting to redefine seed investing through software, where product, engineering and design have the same status as investing.  it’s the way i wish my early investors had approached venture capital when I founded Composite and Passenger, and i can’t think of a team better suited to tackling this problem.

each of them has built, backed or managed products used by thousands of people, while remaining grounded to the core mission of helping founders working on the earliest stages of company building.

Anjney, who is leading Edge, joined kpcb as our youngest partner in late 2013, working closely on our investments in RelateIQ, Ayasdi, Magic Leap, Enjoy and TrueCaller, where he’s a board observer. before that, he led the Dorm Room Fund at stanford, backing seed stage founders in the bay area, while juggling a full undergraduate and graduate course load in bio medical informatics. during his time at KPCB, Anjney played a key role in helping companies with their data science infrastructure, and launched Connect, our internal platform for founders.

Ruby joins Edge out of google, as the fund’s Product Partner, and is focused on shipping cutting edge tools for the founders that Edge is investing in. Ruby helped launch Project Fi at Google as an APM, and worked on the Google Chrome team before that. Ruby has undergraduate and graduate degrees in bio engineering and computer science, both from stanford, where she was a partner at the Dorm Room Fund, and helped run the 150K Challenge for seed stage companies as the president of BASES.

Roneil, who is Edge’s first Engineering Partner comes to the firm from Backslash, a mobile bitcoin payments company he started straight out of stanford, where he completed his undergraduate degree in computer science in three years. Roneil has held several full stack engineering roles before at companies like Nebula and AeroFS, and leads the architecture for all of the products Edge is building for founders.

you can read more about their investment terms, theses, and products here.

2015 commencement speech @USCViterbi – USC engineering

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recently i had the honor of delivering the commencement speech to the students graduating from the usc viterbi school of engineering in 2015. this was a momentous day for the students – and the fact that it rained in southern california during their comments only made it that much more novel 🙂

tl;dr

complacency is the enemy of achievement – so get comfortable being uncomfortable

  • seek mentors to help you navigate through uncomfortable situations
    • in general, people want to help and pay it forward.
  • spend time with and talk with non-engineers. build understanding and empathy of others that are not like you
    • as a ceo of composite software, i built empathy around the challenges of sales and the importance of understanding the difference in a sales culture vs eng culture.
  • seek diverse perspectives – unlearn what you have learned
    • building a mobile operating system (webOS) is very different that rebuilding an online service like twitter
  • keep building regardless of your age or experience – once a builder – always a builder
    • i always have had a side project that i am building…

your biggest risk is pursuing a journey whereby you are too comfortable

thanks for listening!

kpcb fellows 2015 – learn by doing

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i loved my time in school but it wasn’t until i left graduate school at the university of washington that my real education began (beyond having learned how to learn). looking back at it, i’ve had a great career founding and then selling my own company, working on microsoft’s early cloud-computing efforts, leading software development of webOS at Palm, then engineering at Twitter, and now, investing and advising young start-ups. in each and every experience, i made mistakes, fixed them, and made some more. i may have even notched a few wins along the way.

in school, we are often taught how to find solutions to problems. but in the “real world,” no one’s there to walk you through a problem step by step. my experiences allowed me to carve my own path and figure out solutions on my own. the best education that I ever received was outside of the classroom. i can recall working at SRI for Carol Green (head o toxicology) doing informatics works on human liver enzymes – and having to figure out, on my own, the right approach and attributes that we would need to analyze to get the information that we would need to report a result that would impact the research in the area (if interesting). beyond the specific experience, dr. green provided guidance professionally that I still apply to this day – “try again, we will eventually figure this out”.

that’s what i like about the KPCB Fellows Program: it gives students a chance to experience working in the real world and more importantly, at a fast-paced startup in silicon valley for the summer.  this is the fourth year that KPCB has sponsored students interested in engineering, design and product management at some of the hottest start-ups around. this summer we’ve matched our fellows to companies like Uber, Flipboard, Nest, Betterworks, Spruce, Jawbone and Square. last summer, i watched as our fellows built relationships with my partners, learned from executives at the companies they worked at, contributed to world-changing products, and had fun while doing it. after the program, our fellows have gone on to work for our companies full-time or as interns, leaped over to other functional areas, moved over to venture investing, joined notable big tech firms, and even started companies themselves. these students are silicon valley’s next generation of leaders and innovators.

this year, we received more than 2,500 applications from hundreds of the top engineering, design and MBA programs. what makes our program special is the exceptional talent we attract from all over the country. our 2015 class is made up of individuals from Harvard, RISD, Carleton College, CU Boulder, University of Washington, CalTech, Marist College, Arizona State, Bryn Mawr, NYU’s ITP program and more. we’ve seen interest grow every year for engineering fellowships as industry demand for engineering talent increases. we’ve also seen rising interest in design and product management, part of the emerging trend of designing easy-to-use technology for the masses. and this is why I am excited to welcome our 2015 class of fellows to the kpcb family.  welcome to ground zero for changing the world.

hacking for social impact

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last november, i served as a judge for the bayes impact hackathon. like other hackathons, this 24-hour event tested the technical skill and creativity of the participants. but unlike other hackathons, this event embraced an additional dimension: social impact.

in the last few years, people have noticed how data science can drive critical insights in the business world. now, people are turning their attention to the social importance of data science. and they are seeing that the programming skills that are in such demand in silicon valley can also help solve some of our biggest public problems.  

i’ve seen this in my own work, including helping to fix healthcare.gov last year and serving as an adviser to the u.s. digital service. today, with the rise of public data sets and new ways of combining the data, there are great openings for skilled engineers who want to make a difference.

the team that won the hackathon, for example, built software to detect hidden child prostitution rings. the team was working on behalf of thorn, a non-profit with the mission of becoming “digital defenders of children.” one of the runner-up teams created an algorithm to more efficiently position police cars to respond to 911 calls. others went to work on problems that ranged from water conservation to workplace safety.

what was amazing about the hackathon was how undeterred all of the participants were. they didn’t mind if the problem they were taking on seemed intractable or was in a field that is highly regulated. they simply went to work, bringing to bear all of the persistence and creativity they could muster. and as we know from hackathons, a great team – even in the course of a single weekend – can accomplish a lot. 

we’re all busy – but even the busiest among us has spare cycles. one of the members of that winning team at the hackathon? none other than peter reinhardt, who in his day job is ceo of segment.io, a customer analytics company that has raised more than $15m in venture capital funding. so you don’t need to give up your day job to change the world. just get started and you’ll find a way. this event has inspired me to focus my next sw project in the area of ‘hacking for social impact’ and hope to post my project soon!

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spruce, and the future of healthcare

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from my early work in bioinformatics as a phd student to my involvement in rock health to helping fix healthcare.gov, the opportunity for software to reshape the healthcare industry has been a longstanding area of interest. ‘digital health’ is now hotter than ever, and for good reasons:

1/ consumerization of healthcare.  we as consumers bear more of the cost of our healthcare than ever before (the avg deductible is now $1200, up 2x from 5 yrs ago). as we navigate the healthcare system on our own paying out of pocket, we will vote with our $ for good experiences at affordable prices. this creates an enormous opportunity for innovation.

2/ software finally making inroads in healthcare. nowhere is this more obvious than with the ubiquity of mobile for both patients and doctors. mobile sw stands to improve access to care and improve inefficient workflows.

3/ opportunity for impact. healthcare is one of the largest sectors of our economy ($2.7 trillion!), and yet one of the most inefficient. great entrepreneurs and software teams are increasingly attracted to the opportunity to do things better/faster/cheaper in healthcare and have a real impact on human lives.

it’s against that backdrop that i’m excited to share kpcb’s series a investment in spruce health, where i’ll be taking a board seat. spruce is re-inventing healthcare delivery in a mobile world.

‘telemedicine’ (connecting patients with care providers for remote diagnosis and treatment) is finally taking off, but is still in its infancy relative to the opportunity. spruce’s approach is distinctive, and i think it’s reflective of where the industry will go — moving beyond access to focus on quality and innovation.  not content to be simply a communication channel paired with a md network, spruce wants to be a better way to see the doctor. they work with top medical advisors to build out — one medical condition at a time — comprehensive care experiences that use software to innovate upon everything from how you visit with the doctor, to how you get your rx, to how you follow your treatment regimen, to how follow-up care occurs.

building out high-quality, comprehensive experiences uniquely tailored to each medical condition requires focus. so while the team at spruce have broad ambitions, they launched last fall supporting a single condition – the treatment of acne by board-certified dermatologists. both patients and dermatologists loved the product, and today they are announcing support for a broad set of dermatological concerns beyond acne. the product solves a big problem: skin concerns are the #1 reasons for visits to the doctor in the US, and yet the wait time to see a dermatologist is 29 days and both patients & their doctors complain about communication and adherence in traditional care settings.

i’m excited to be along for the ride with the spruce team as they continue to build out their vision. this is a uniquely strong product, design, and engineering team who built highly successful products at aws, fb, twitter, and other top engineering orgs. i look forward to seeing more teams like them tackle healthcare head on – as a country we need it.