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Sheila Gulati
Sheila Gulati

Seattle is a good town for enterprise software. And perhaps nothing says that more than news Thursday that SAP is gobbling up Bellevue-based Concur — a maker of travel and entertainment expense management software — for a cool $8.3 billion.

Now, two former Microsoft employees are looking to find the next Concur.

Sheila Gulati and Stacey Giard are the leaders of Tola Capital, a new private investment fund which is looking to discover the “next wave” of enterprise software companies.

I first heard about the fund last week, and now it appears as if Gulati and Giard have found some success raising capital. A SEC filing today indicates that Tola Capital has raised $33 million, with a total target listed of $150 million.

That’s an impressive amount of money, especially for a new fund. Tola also is unique given the leadership by two women, something that is not often seen in the male-dominated venture capital ranks.

Gulati is a former investment banker at Robertson Stephens, who went on to work at Microsoft for more than a decade in a number of roles, including general manager of application platform and developer marketing. She left Microsoft in 2010, which is when Tola Capital was formed.

Today’s filing indicates that this is a first fund, with the entity dubbed Tola Capital Partners I. However, it appears as if Gulati and Giard have been making investments for several years, with their Web site listing a portfolio of 14 companies, including Seattle area startups SpaceCurve, Indix and Opstera (acquired by Avanade). Others listed include Austin-based Aurigo, San Francisco-based 3Scale and Germany-based Minubo.


In an interview with GeekWire this week, venture capitalist Bill Bryant of DFJ noted that Seattle lacks capital to support entrepreneurs at the early stages. A number of Seattle venture firms — Frazier Technology Ventures, Fluke Ventures, OVP Venture Partners — have faded away in recent years.

“What would it mean to this community to have — say $75 million of capital — that is going to be invested in startups, say $250,000 to $1 million a pop? That’s a lot of startups,” he said. “That, to me, is the key to unlocking this whole thing is having access to the first $500,000 or $1 million.”

According to Tola’s Web site, the firm is looking for opportunities that are a bit later-stage, those cloud-based companies with revenue of $15 million to $150 million. It is also more global in nature.

In an email to GeekWire, Gulati noted how the enterprise software market is undergoing a massive transition right now, something that the firm describes as a “once-in-a-generation investment opportunity.”

“Tola Capital is focused on the opportunity as enterprise software transitions to the cloud,” she said. “We look forward to engaging with firms in this space to apply mid-stage funding, our expertise and our network to help them achieve a new level of growth.”

She declined further comment given the ongoing fundraising efforts.

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