Leadership

M.R. Asks 3 Questions: Peter Sobiloff, Managing Director, Insight Venture Partners

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Peter Sobiloff has been a managing director with Insight Venture Partners since 1998, when he joined the firm with 20 years of operational experience in executive leadership positions, sales management and worldwide operations. Peter specializes in mentoring management teams to foster technological change in existing markets in order to produce greater productivity and deliver incremental value to customers. 

I spoke with Peter to learn a little more about how “growth equals opportunity” and his advice on finding the right management partner.

Can you tell me a little about Insight Venture Partners and the firm’s investment strategy or philosophy?

Insight is a global software venture capital and private equity firm. One of our biggest mottos is “Growth Equals Opportunity” and what that really means is our focus on growth as a means of value creation. We are typically investing behind entrepreneurs who are running companies with a strong product-market fit, but who could use help in scaling the business, either organically or inorganically. We have an entire operational team called Insight Onsite, which works directly with our portfolio companies to help think through growth levers such as sales, marketing, hiring, product development and customer success. 

How has Insight evolved over time as software companies and tech companies more broadly have become a stronger part of the overall economic ecosystem?

Insight has grown tremendously as a firm, which reflects the continued growth of software as an asset class. If you were to go back to our founding in 1995, there were essentially no companies that could reasonably absorb $20 million to $50 million in growth capital. But as there is more demand for both application and infrastructure software across companies of all sizes, software vendors are able to create large $100 million­–plus revenue businesses that justify this type of spend. We’ve raised larger funds over the years, and we are now operating out of our tenth fund, which is $6.3 billion in capital commitments. 

What advice do you have for a founder or management team looking to find the right investment partner?

Find a partner that not only understands your business and associated go-to-market, but who also challenges your blind spots. When your investors understand your business, they are realistic about growth expectations and how to deploy capital, and they are typically also aligned with the timeline for an exit. However, if they don’t have value-add in areas you feel least comfortable, they will likely not be the right people to take you through the next phase of growth. Investments at reasonable valuations are commonplace in today’s market, so prioritize partners with relevant experience over maximum valuation.

 

M.R. Rangaswami is co-founder of Sand Hill Group and publisher of SandHill.com. 

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