A new Seattle-area venture group launched July 29 to invest in early stage Pacific Northwest companies developing software with the potential to shape the economy.
Fuse Venture Partners was founded by General Partners Kellan Carter and Cameron Borumand, formerly with Ignition, a Seattle area early-stage enterprise software venture capital firm that has backed companies like DocuSign, Splunk, and Icertis. Fuse will invest in Seed and Series A companies in the software universe.
Seattle Seahawks captain Bobby Wagner is joining Fuse as a venture partner, and John Connors and Satbir Khanuja, former Microsoft and Amazon executives, respectively, are joining as senior operating partners. Senior advisers to the fund are Nader Naini, managing partner at Frazier Healthcare Partners, and Gary Rieschel, founding managing partner at Qiming Venture Partners.
Fuse will look to partner with companies in a talent-rich region that includes the Eastside, Tacoma, South Sound, Portland, and Vancouver, said Borumand, who grew up in Redmond.
“This is a really special ecosystem and the amount of talent that’s been traveling, not just to Seattle city proper, but to all those other regions … is quite astonishing,” he said in an interview. “So we’re looking to partner with early stage companies based in the Pacific Northwest focused on similar themes that have worked for us historically: software that reinvents the modern economy.”
Fuse expects to deploy roughly $100 million over the next three to four years.
It has raised $70.9 million so far through Fuse Venture Partners 1 LP and Fuse Venture Partners Alpha 1 LP, according to two Form Ds filed July 24 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“The Seattle business community has really stepped up to back Fuse in a meaningful way, not only with capital, but time and evangelizing it — enthusiastic support, whether it’s execs from Microsoft, Amazon, Costco, Nike …,” said Carter, who called the support “really humbling.”
Fuse will tap into a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes global talent spinning out of the likes of Microsoft and Amazon to start companies, Borumand said.
“Particularly during this market shift that we’re going through, it’s clear that every industry and every role is going to be reimagined to do more with less, and we’re excited to see what opportunities and companies, entrepreneurs uncover during the next five years,” he said.
Asked about Wagner’s involvement, Carter said the football star has immersed himself in the venture capital industry and is incredibly talented off the field. Wagner has worked closely with Carter, Borumand, Connors and Khanuja at Ignition the last three years.
“We saw the opportunity to get him involved in Fuse and were super intentional about doing so,” Carter said of the excitement for Wagner “to translate his leadership and his winner’s mindset to the Fuse portfolio.”
In a news release announcing Fuse’s formation, Wagner said he’s enjoyed working with the team over the last three years.
“Their hustle is unmatched, and their focus is always on the entrepreneur,” Wagner said in the release. “We each bring a wide range of experience and vast networks of diverse, local connections, which uniquely positions us as the best partner for companies reimagining and reinventing how work is done — and we can’t wait to get started.”
Carter was Ignition’s youngest partner and responsible for backing several return-driving deals for its most recent fund, including Icertis, an enterprise contract management platform and Seattle unicorn, according to the release. Borumand was promoted to principal at Ignition after only two years.
Connors and Khanuja will provide unique support to Fuse portfolio companies through their wide networks and business-growth expertise, the release said. Connors has a 30-year career in enterprise software, having served in roles such as partner at Ignition, CFO, CIO and head of the Worldwide Enterprise Division at Microsoft, and on the boards of Nike and Splunk. Khanuja’s past includes seven years on the Amazon leadership team under founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, and nine years as CEO of Ignition portfolio company Datasphere Technologies.
“Having worked with the Fuse team while at Ignition, this is the beginning of something special for the Seattle software community,” Connors said in the release.