Announcing Our Investment in Merlon Intelligence

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Combining Word-Class Machine Learning With Financial Services Expertise

Our mantra at Work-Bench, which you can see printed in vinyl right when you enter our workspace, is that great things happen at the intersection of suits and hoodies.

I don’t think that a company of ours has ever better exemplified this more than Merlon Intelligence, which is why we’re thrilled to announce that Work-Bench is joining in their $7.65M raise led by Data Collective with participation from Fenway Summer and Nyca Partners.

Too often companies from the Valley and beyond approach Wall Street thinking that they can solve their problems better, faster, and cheaper, however they usually lack the necessary context and domain expertise to fully appreciate the problem at hand (including existing tooling and workflows).

When we come across those rare founders who have an extraordinary vision for how the world should be and who pair it with deep customer empathy and an ability to execute, it gets us excited.

Such is the case with Merlon Intelligence, where one day last year we got a call from someone at a bank we work closely with, who said that we had to check out an incredible new startup solving Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance unlike anything they’d seen before in the market.

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Announcing Our Investment in CoreOS

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Google's Infrastructure For Everyone Else

While the future of consumer tech might be Giphy, we believe the future of enterprise tech is GIFEE: Google’s Infrastructure For Everyone Else. And in keeping with that belief, we’re excited to announce today that we’re joining Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Accel, Fuel Capital, and Y Combinator in backing CoreOS as part of their $28M Series B.

CoreOS represents a fundamental shift in infrastructure technology that only comes around once a decade. Containerization is a seismic and profound change in the way software will be built, distributed, and run in the 21st century - one that will play out over the next decade and is unlike anything we’ve seen since virtualization disrupted the physical server market. Ultimately, what CoreOS is building stands to commoditize the $322B in global IT infrastructure spend every year.

Key to this is CoreOS’ unique focus on the fundamental security of the datacenter and its use of Kubernetes, an open source initiative that builds on a decade and a half of experience running production workloads at Google, combined with best of breed ideas and practices from its growing community.

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Announcing Our Investment in x.ai

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Dennis Mortensen is one of those special founders. I first met him in late 2012 when he was leading his previous company, Visual Revenue, and he wanted to present at the NYETM. From the beginning, it was clear how quickly Dennis could light up a room. Anyone who’s ever met him knows the passion and intensity with which he talks about the future is inspiring. Two years later in February 2014, after he had sold Visual Revenue to Outbrain, I got this email about alpha testing a new product.

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Announcing Our Investment in Cockroach Labs

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Today we’re excited to announce that Work-Bench is joining Index Ventures, Benchmark, GV (formerly Google Ventures), FirstMark Capital, and other great investors to back Cockroach Labs in their Series A-1 round.

Cockroach Labs is a case in point that you don’t need to go to the Valley to find ambitious technical teams disrupting the enterprise software stack, and we’re excited to partner with a highly capable team ready to infest the enterprise database market.

From back office to front end transactional systems, major Wall Street banks are rethinking their data architecture to prepare for the same level of scale and flexibility espoused by the web-scale giants. The power of cloud computing and distributed infrastructure has reverberated through the entire IT stack. Core IT functions such as monitoring, security, and messaging have been re-written from the ground up to meet unique new demands. However, the transactional database powering core enterprise systems and application remains a sleepy dormant that is ripe for disruption.

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Why You Should Leave Your Corporate Job for an Enterprise Tech Startup

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Everything you wanted to know about leaving your corporate job for a(n enterprise) startup but were too afraid to ask

A common discussion I’ve had since leaving Morgan Stanley IT a couple years ago is with people in IT at big banks wondering what it’s like to join an enterprise startup and whether it could possibly be for them.

With the holiday season upon us (and many people contemplating career moves or unhappy with their year-end bonuses at their corporate jobs), there’s no better time than now to consider joining an enterprise startup. In this post I’ll cover the why and how of leaving your corporate job, and break the process down into 3 phases.

In terms of some context, regardless of whether you’ve been working at your corporate job for 2 years, 5 years, or even 20+ years, this post is for you. I’ve had so many conversations on this topic lately that I figured it makes sense to share it so that hopefully folks outside my 2nd degree network can learn from this and potentially make the leap!

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7 Lessons Learned in My First 2 Years as a VC

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This post is the first in a series by our Work-Bench team on the top lessons we’ve learned over the past two years building Work-Bench from the ground up. First up is Jon Lehr, Managing Director.

July marked the two year anniversary of launching the Work-Bench Ventures fund and consequently two years into my experience as a VC.

Work-Bench Ventures is a VC fund that co-invests in enterprise technology startups early in their go-to-market. Usually this means Series A and B deals. Our portfolio includes prominent enterprise startups led by serial entrepreneurs such as Switch Communications (Craig Walker), Tamr (Andy Palmer and Michael Stonebraker), and vArmour (Tim Eades). In these deals we've invested with the likes of NEA, Google Ventures, a16z, Menlo Ventures, and DFJ.

We’ve made it our mission to be the most value add investor on the customer introduction front for early go-to-market enterprise startups. We focus on connecting our portfolio companies with our deep network of early adopters at forward-thinking Fortune 1000 companies. And to assist in this mission, we have built the home for enterprise tech in NYC through our community and events that we host at our 32,000 square foot workspace in Union Square.

It's been a wild (and super fun) ride the past two years, and Jason Lemkin’s recent post on “The Top 8 Mistakes I Made in My First 18 Months As a VC Partner” inspired me to share some of my learnings too.

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Announcing our Investment in Tamr

We’re thrilled to announce our investment in Tamr’s Series B alongside NEA, Google Ventures, and strategics including HP, Thomson Reuters, MassMutual, and SineWave.

Tamr operates in the enterprise data management space which is massive but highly competitive. After diving in and learning nuances of the market and corporate pain points, we learned that Tamr is the only company with an enterprise-grade solution for an enterprise-scale problem.

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Why Every Enterprise Startup Needs a NYC Presence

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Note: This post was originally published in TechCrunch on May 15, 2015, by our Venture Director at Work-Bench, Jonathan Lehr.

I recently wrote about the state of enterprise tech in NYC in order to showcase New York’s growing enterprise startup ecosystem. In highlighting the 70+ enterprise startups headquartered in the city, however, I left out the important and growing constituency of companies opening satellite offices in New York with headquarters elsewhere.

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The State of Enterprise Tech in NYC

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Note: This post was originally published in TechCrunch on March 8, 2015, by our Venture Director at Work-Bench, Jonathan Lehr.

It’s often touted that NYC is home to major industries, including financial services, media, advertising, healthcare, and manufacturing. In fact, 52 of the Fortune 500 are headquartered in New York, with NYC having more Fortune 500 companies than any other city in the country. While the corporate side of the equation is well-known, what is lesser known is how much our enterprise startup ecosystem here in NYC is growing.

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