Maria Montero

Former NEA partner Jon Sakoda takes the wrapper off …

Jon sakoda He needed to unzip, he says. The founding investor-turned-investor had logged a dozen years with investor heavyweight New Enterprise Associates after selling his last startup to Symantec in 2006, and what he wanted this past summer was more time with his kids and less time. With his phone. which turned off for three weeks.

“I can’t recommend it highly enough,” says Sakoda, who has since returned to work and today is taking control of his new venture company, Decibel, a term sometimes used to describe exponential changes in the power of sounds or signals sent. A network that speaks of the “exponential power” of the company network, says its new website.

While it’s tempting to scoff at this claim, from the outside it appears to be true. Although Sakoda is the only founding general partner of Decibel. – says he’s looking to add investment professionals right now – not only does Decibel have the benefit of its extensive connections in Silicon Valley; It also has the majority backing of Cisco, the network equipment manufacturer that is aggressively transforming itself into a more software-focused company.

Although Sakoda says he doesn’t know exactly what percentage of Cisco’s fund The dollars understand, in part because the vehicle is not yet closed, tells us that you are working in partnership with the company, including its corporate enterprise team, Cisco Investments.

He’s also working with some of the many founders who have been drawn into Cisco over the years through its M&A strategy. For example, one of these, Jon Oberheide, a founder who sold his company, Duo Security, to Cisco for more than $ 2 billion last year, is currently working with one of Decibel’s portfolio companies as an advisor.

Putting it in context, Oberheide is helping with half of Decibel’s portfolio, which includes CMD, the three-year-old cybersecurity startup, which last month closed with $ 15 million in funding led by GV. (It is this team that Oberheide is helping.) Decibel also backed Blameless, a software developer for site reliability engineers that announced $ 20 million in funding last week, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Sakoda says there are more deals in the works, and explains that what he’s buying has little to do with Cisco today, but could eventually be a strategic fit for the corporate giant. For example, although Sakoda participated in the financing of Snap on behalf of NEA, it says that it is not as likely that it will buy e-commerce or media companies for Decibel.

In the absence of these areas, although Sakoda suggests that anything goes as long as the company is not too advanced. “We are really going to be looking for new companies that try to find a suitable product for the market and that help it grow,” he explains. “If a company has a lot of revenue and is already scaling, it is probably too late for us.”

It makes sense, considering that Decibel itself has a way to go to establish itself. Although an earlier SEC filing suggests the fund is targeting $ 500 million, a pool that will be structured like a traditional hedge fund (“the fund’s investments, staff, and management are all independent” from Cisco, Sakoda says) , and although Decibel already has a firm plans to issue initial checks of up to $ 5 million to Stage A and Series A companies, ask Sakoda where the firm is located, and he will tell you with a laugh that he doesn’t know very well.

“I haven’t figured that out yet. I’m working on it.”