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6/3/15. Photo by Daniel Berman/
Madrona managing directors Tim Porter, Matt McIlwain, Scott Jacobson, Paul Goodrich and Len Jordan. Photo by Daniel Berman/

Madrona Venture Group’s new $300 million fund will allow the Seattle venture capital firm to bankroll more than new 30 startups in the Pacific Northwest.

Want to get a little of that cash?

Matt McIlwain (Photo: Erynn Rose.)
Matt McIlwain (Photo: Erynn Rose.)

In an interview with GeekWire, Madrona Venture Group’s Matt McIlwain laid out the types of startup ideas that are resonating with the firm these days.

Many of the concepts are not surprising to close watchers of Madrona, which over the years has taken a rather broad approach to startup investing, bankrolling companies in digital advertising (iSpot), enterprise software (Smartsheet, Bizible), data analytics (Dato, Placed), consumer Internet (Redfin) and cloud infrastructure (Igenous, Shippable).

A cutaway view of the Hololens Hardware.
A cutaway view of the Hololens Hardware.

Those are all areas that remain interesting to Madrona.

But one area that McIlwain mentioned struck me as slightly off kilter from what Madrona has invested in historically: augmented reality and virtual reality.

Here’s what McIlwain had to say on that emerging industry:

“A second category that we think is both emerging globally and is now in its time for real — I think there have been lots of good reasons for skepticism over the years — but we do think that the whole area of the spectra from augmented reality to what Microsoft likes to call mixed reality and others focus on virtual reality, and there is a much longer conversation as to how that spectra plays out. We think the next decade plus is going to be a big transformation, and there are going to be a lot of winners up and down that stack.

We think the combination of what Valve is doing here in town, the strong presence of Oculus and the Facebook team here, and what Microsoft is doing with HoloLens and other initiatives and undoubtedly others in town are working on stuff as well, that this is a great area for VR and AR investments.”

So, there you have it, folks. Time to get those AR and VR ideas polished if you want to attract some attention from Madrona.

In addition to augmented reality and virtual reality, McIlwain said that the firm is doubling-down on an area it dubs “application intelligence.”

“Infusing our applications with both data and the insights that can come from that data are going to make applications a lot more intelligent both to the end consumer — where they have an experience with a smarter recommendation or prediction — or the businesses that are trying to make decisions of what product should I sell this customer today or do I have some sort of employee retention issue, or whatever it might be. Software is going to have to be a lot more intelligent.”

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