A Milestone for Samsara

December 20, 2021
min read

At General Catalyst, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to build enduring companies.

I remember when I first met Sanjit Biswas.  We were both part of the MIT diaspora, and we got to know each other well when we served together on the board of Highfive.  From the very outset I was struck by his deep command of technology as well as his mastery of go-to-market functions–a rare combination of talents.  I was impressed by his uncanny ability to reduce the sales process to an engineering problem, and think about company growth in a highly original way.

Like many of GC’s early stage investments, our 2017 investment in Samsara was a founder bet.   Sanjit and co-founder John Bicket were setting out on a mission to bring technology to the industrial IOT and logistics space–at the time, not an obvious nor particularly mainstream sector, but one that they believed was ripe for digital transformation.

I suppose I have always been drawn to founders that tackle sectors that are largely ignored by others.  I remember when we first invested in Stripe 11 years ago.  It’s funny to think about now, given Stripe’s current scale and stature, but back then payments was considered a commodity category by most.  Same with Livongo.  When we co-founded the company in 2009 with Glen Tullman and Lee Shapiro, it was years before anyone could have predicted the pace and import of today’s digital healthcare revolution.  I saw the same potential in Samsara–understanding intuitively the profound positive impact a connected operations platform could have on physical operations everywhere, long before supply chain logistics became the strategically central issue it is today.  

Samsara is a master class in what it takes to build an enduring company.  Sanjit, John and their leadership team have maintained a clear vision and mission from the outset, and never wavered; they’ve always thought long and hard about all their stakeholders, and sought to minimize and avoid the unintended consequences that can come with new technologies; they understood what huge carbon producers the industrial and transportation sectors are, and saw the positive climate and societal impact they could have by creating a platform for more efficient physical operations.  But most importantly, they showed tremendous resolve during the early days of the pandemic and maintained the composure, focus and steadfastness it takes to navigate through unprecedented conditions and build a great company–with both strong financial and societal returns.  

When I think about GC’s journey with Samsara, it is the realization of our own strategy–beginning as a committed and highly engaged early investor, and adding value at every stage along the way.  When we first invested,  Samsara was just about a million dollar ARR business.  GC subsequently led or co-led every single financing round.  Today, as it begins its next chapter as a public company, Samsara is a global business with close to  $500 million in ARR, 1,500 employees and tens of thousands of customers.

When we talk about our mission at GC–investing in powerful positive change that endures–this is what we mean.  We believe Samsara is a market-leading company that will continue to serve its stakeholders and have an enduring impact.  Congratulations to Sanjit, John and the entire team.  We’re excited for what’s next.