Sheila Gulati is excited about the converging worlds of cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and now the former Microsoft manager has some fresh capital to play with as she looks for exciting startup companies in those arenas.
Today, Gulati’s firm — known as Tola — disclosed that it has closed on a $295 million growth-oriented venture fund. That follows previous fundraising efforts, and brings total capital raised across Gulati’s firm to $341 million. That’s a huge amount of capital for a Seattle-based fund, but Gulati says it speaks to the opportunity that her team is trying to attack.
Gulati says she’s especially excited about the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and the role those technologies will play in future enterprises. Software and data is “changing every part of business,” something that Gulati said her investors deeply understood while on the fundraising trail.
“We are investing in the next generation of enterprise computing, as fueled by the innovations in cloud, data, and mobile technologies,” Gulati told GeekWire. “We want to help enterprises use software and data to more effectively serve their customers; the predictive value of data is an incredible enabler for business.”
And while Gulati is rooted in Seattle — a city whose leadership in machine learning and cloud computing stands above most — she’s not limiting her investments to the Pacific Northwest. In fact, Gulati said the firm will invest in companies across North America and Europe.
“We are hypothesis-based investors and look for companies that have strong traction within their target customer segment,” said Gulati, who has made five investments from the new fund. It typically invests in the range of $5 million to $25 million.
Gulati previously served as general manager of application platform and developer marketing at Microsoft, and before that led U.S. developer and platform evangelism. She’s joined on the Tola team by Stacy Girard, who previously worked on the server and tools team at Microsoft.
The new funding was provided by endowments, family offices and private foundations.