Sandra Kurtzig's Kenandy cloud startup scores $33 million from Lightspeed

When Silicon Valley pioneer Sandra Kurtzig shattered the startup glass ceiling by launching ASK Computer Systems in 1972, she did it with $2,000 in savings.

She’s found a better way. Kurtzig tells me her two-plus-year-old startup, cloud enterprise play Kenandy, will announce on Tuesday a $33 million round of funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.

“It is pretty clear, looking back for the last two years, and at what we’ve accomplished in the last two years,” Kurtzig told me, “that the second time around is a lot easier.”

The B round of investment, which includes the company’s original backers, is a booster rocket for Kenandy. The Redwood City company has about 30 employees and early backing from valley heavyweights Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, salesforce.com and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

“We’re at an exciting point in the company,” said Kurtzig, who named the company after her sons Ken and Andy. “We’re going to expand our sales and marketing and all parts of our company.”

Kenandy, which launched in 2010, offers major corporations cloud-based software to manage manufacturing, distribution, sales and most other aspects of running a business.

“This investment reflects a convergence of several trends that Lightspeed has been pursuing for some time, together with an executive team possessing deep
domain expertise,” Lightspeed Partner Chris Schaepe said in a written statement. “We are honored to partner with Kenandy.”

The particular trends Schaepe highlighted included the software as a service model and the various cloud applications that make the service valuable.

In some ways Kenandy is the 2013 version of where Kurtzig got her start with ASK. She took that enterprise software company public in 1981, earning the nickname “Mother of Silicon Valley.”

She is also the mother of the aforementioned sons, who both followed in the family business and became CEOs, as I wrote in a column last month.

Taking venture capital cash is always a balancing act: You get the money you need to grow (or in some cases survive) and you give up part of your company and some of your control in return.

Kurtzig by nature is not a big giver-upper. She shied away from venture money when starting and running ASK and venture capital is not on the first page of her startup playbook.

Taking a big bag of cash at this point wasn’t necessarily in the original Kenandy plan, Kurtzig says.

“He came in at the right time,” she says of Lightspeed’s Schaepe, who approached Kenandy board member Ray Lane, who probably welcomed the distraction, given his scrape with the IRS. “They’ve been just great.”

Add to that, that Andy Kurtzig — CEO of Pearl.com, a Web service that connects consumers to experts — has been pushing his mother to use venture funding to her advantage.

“He said, ‘When everybody wants to throw money at you, take it,’” Sandra Kurtzig told me.

After all his mother has done for him, a little advice is the least the kid could do.

Photo of Sandra and Andy Kurtzig by Mercury News photographer Gary Reyes

 

Mike Cassidy Mike Cassidy (173 Posts)

I write about the culture of Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News.