Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Enterprise tech company Snowflake went public Wednesday morning, opening its trading at an eye-popping $245 a share.

Yes, but: Long before its blockbuster IPO and prior to catching Warren Buffett’s eye (and dollars), it was a quietly ambitious startup whose founders hailed from old-school companies like Oracle, and wanted to take on Amazon Web Services.

The big picture: Founded in 2012 by Benoit Dageville, Thierry Cruanes and Marcin Zukowski, the San Mateo, Calif.-based company set out to build data warehousing and analytics services for other businesses.

  • "They were very soft-spoken, kind, middle-aged engineers out of Oracle," says Peter Wagner, a venture capitalist and one of Snowflake’s earliest investors.
  • “This was when Hadoop was all the rage ... They were going to compete with Amazon … the conventional wisdom at the time was that you should not try to compete with Amazon."

Between the lines: Sutter Hill Ventures’ Mike Speiser was not only one of the earliest backers of Snowflake, but he was also its first CEO, helping shape the company's original trajectory. (Speiser, who is still on the board, declined to comment.)

  • Among Speiser’s early contributions was to hire a head of product, early investor Ken Hausman tells Axios. “It’s not common to have, from my experience, that kind of attention and focus on the customer so early.”
  • “When you come to market, if you’re missing one key function, there aren’t going to be any early adopters,” he adds. Hausman’s first task after backing the company was to interview a wide range of potential customers about their product needs.
  • Since, the company has had a couple more CEOs, including current chief executive Frank Slootman, who joined last year after leaving ServiceNow in 2017.

1 fun thing: During an annual event hosted by Wagner's Wing Ventures, then-Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia took some jabs at Hadoop and ended up in a friendly debate with Amr Awadallah, co-founder of Hadoop company Cloudera, who happened to be in the audience.

  • “It was a great opportunity to have two of the prime movers of modern data analytics discussing this," Wagner says.

The bottom line: Investors are hard-pressed to admit they didn’t predict a portfolio company would be a massive success — it is, after all, why they invest.

  • “But it’s certainly unfolded more dramatically than expected,” says Wagner.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

IPOs flourish as market shows appetite for tech stocks

Photo: JFrog

Snowflake shares more than doubled on Wednesday, after having the biggest software IPO in history, while JFrog also posted strong first-day gains.

Why it matters: The moves show that Wall Street's appetite for new tech stocks remains significant, with concerns about both the pandemic and high valuations taking a back seat.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 18, 2020 - Economy & Business

Why Amazon committed $2 billion to fund clean energy technology

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Matt Peterson, a senior Amazon exec, joined the "Axios Re:Cap" podcast to explain the thinking behind the tech and commerce giant's climate venture capital fund, which rolled out its first investments on Thursday.

Why it matters: The fund, $2 billion to start, is beginning to invest on the heels of Amazon's late 2019 pledge to be net-zero emissions by 2040.

Amazon defends working with oil companies to reach its zero-carbon goal

Kara Hurst in Seattle.

Partnering with oil and gas producers is necessary for Amazon and other companies to achieve their climate goals, the tech giant's chief of sustainability, Kara Hurst, said during an Axios virtual event on Thursday.

The big picture: Amazon aims to hit carbon neutrality in 2040, 10 years earlier than the Paris climate accord. The company plans to reach its goal in part by helping companies develop climate-friendly technologies through a $2 billion venture fund. The first recipients were announced on Thursday.