The quiet successes that drive Silicon Valley

The quiet successes that drive Silicon Valley

August 13, 2013: 11:58 AM ET

Not every successful tech entrepreneur wants the limelight.

By Jeff Richards, contributor

FORTUNE — recently announced the acquisition of EdgeSpring, an emerging player in the business intelligence/analytics market. It was an amazing outcome for the company’s two founders, employees and investors (Lightspeed and Kleiner Perkins). So why didn’t you hear about it? Because the founders want it that way. They represent Quiet Success. And – despite what you may have been led to believe – it happens every day in Silicon Valley. EdgeSpring cofounders Vijay Chakravarthy and Ryan Lange are huge talents. Both have now had repeat entrepreneurial success. Both have created significant value, and will no doubt go on to work magic at Salesforce (CRM). They have a combined 27 followers on Twitter. They aren’t part of the PayPal or Facebook Mafia. They never held a launch party. They didn’t raise money from a hedge fund or a flashmob of notable angel investors and celebrities. They announced the acquisition with a simple change to their web site:Over the past few years, the $18 billion market for business intelligence software has shifted dramatically from ancient, expensive, and difficult-to-use database technology to lightning-fast and easy to use cloud-based technology. EdgeSpring is at the forefront of this trend. As experienced entrepreneurs, Vijay and Ryan saw this shift and knew they had an opportunity to build something great.  They raised a small amount of capital from VCs and went to work hiring a team and building technology. After just a few years, cloud software leader took notice and acquired the company.

Yes, Silicon Valley has its share of high profile “tech celebrities,” and wealth and attention can be generated in Silicon Valley perhaps faster than anywhere other than New York (wealth) or LA (attention). But every day, great entrepreneurs are building amazing companies you don’t hear about.

Heard of Nir Zuk? He founded Palo Alto Networks, now a $3.5 billion leader in the security/firewall space. Hasn’t posted on Twitter since August of 2011. How about Peter Gassner at Veeva?  Quietly building a very large SaaS business in the pharma industry which is rumored to be planning an IPO in the next year or so. How about Sridhar Vembu?  He founded and runsZOHO, the cloud-based software company with more than eight million users.

These entrepreneurs reflect the ideals of Quiet Success. They make great things happen, create thousands of jobs and deliver tremendous value for their customers. They also create tremendous wealth for themselves, their employees and their investors.

As venture capitalists, we are fortunate to meet many of these people and their companies every day. The business media and tech blogs don’t cover these companies and entrepreneurs at length (a Groupon or Zynga meltdown story drives pageviews like a Lindsay Lohan car crash), so they remain off the general public’s radar.

Beyond the tech blogosphere, I hope this article prompts you to keep your eyes out for entrepreneurs like Vijay and Ryan, and companies like Edgespring. Smile when you see them. They are the hidden engine of Silicon Valley.

Just don’t Tweet, Tumbl, Snap, Pin or Like it. The entrepreneurs might get angry.

Disclosure: I was a small angel investor in EdgeSpring, and Vijay and Ryan (very) reluctantly let me highlight them in this post. I am a Partner at GGV Capital, a $1.6 billion expansion stage venture capital firm focused on the US and China.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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