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Monthly people move spotlight: Shashank Saxena named managing partner at Sierra Ventures

Photo illustration of Shashank Saxena next to graphic diagonal lines.

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo courtesy of Sierra Ventures

Shashank Saxena joined Sierra Ventures in April as managing partner to lead enterprise software investments. Sierra Ventures is an early-stage venture firm with over $2 billion of assets under management.

Why it matters: AI is allowing for more efficient and comprehensive data analysis, in turn supporting enterprise software's automation and ability to uncover patterns and recommendations.

Zoom in: When systems of records were initially moved to the cloud, Saxena saw publicly-traded companies created to aid that migration.

  • The next set of apps, Saxena said, no matter the space or domain, will need an element of infused intelligence or machine learning in order to compete with the market.

🗣 What he's saying: Sierra Ventures aligned with Saxena's personal values, one of which was being a founder-friendly firm. Saxena said he looks for founders with product and domain expertise, and tries to understand their journey and motivation.

  • "Are you willing to sacrifice the short term fun or excitement for a long-term gain?" Saxena said. "Building a company is not an overnight thing."

📍 How he got here: Saxena co-founded and served as CEO of VNDLY, a vendor management system that was acquired by Workday in 2021 for $510 million. Prior to that, Saxena led digital applications at Citibank and digital and e-commerce at Kroger.

📈 Trend spot: As companies integrate machine learning AI into their products, engagement data measuring usage and behavioral patterns will need to be utilized. Take e-commerce companies, which are focusing on personalizing shopping experiences at an individual level.

  • "Your prior shopping history and my prior shopping history might look completely different," Saxena said. "The companies that think about integration frameworks and how to get the right data to train the models to build that experience for the customer — those are the companies we feel will win the market."

💼 First job: Stocking shelves at a Target in Woodland Hills, Calif.

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