Legendary quarterback Joe Montana is officially a legendary venture capital investor thanks to GitLab’s massive IPO

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Even casual athletes know the legendary 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. Montana beat the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl titles and won three Super Bowl MVPs. Perhaps even more impressive, Montana completed 68% of its passes in those four Super Bowls, with no interceptions and 11 touchdowns.

During his NFL career, Joe earned a surprisingly low total salary of $ 25.5 million. His highest base salary in a single season was $ 4 million, which he earned in his final two career seasons from the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993 and 1994.

With these earnings in mind, you may be impressed that Joe Montana’s net worth is $ 150 million today … and is still growing FAST.

Some of his current fortune has come from helping companies like Sketchers, Guinness, Papa Johns, MasterCard and AT&T. But the vast majority got into the world of venture capital investing thanks to Joe’s retired career. And with only a few years of experience, Joe Montana has already proven himself to be a legend in this area …

Cindy Ord / Getty Images for SiriusXM

When Joe retired in 1994, he was 38 years old. One unfortunate tragedy aside, Joe knew he probably had decades to live and work.

He tried a little radio but was soon dragged in an entirely different direction. When he was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2000, the Bay Area was in the middle of the dot-com bubble. He watched from afar how this bubble rose and exploded without making any major personal stock investments. But he was definitely addicted to investing in general.

Years after the bubble burst, Joe formed an investment partnership with former 49er teammates Harris Barton and Ronnie Lot. Technically, Barton and Lot had already run a fund called Champion Ventures. After Joe joined, they named the company HRJ, a nod to their first names.

HRJ mainly invested in other funds. It didn’t invest directly in early stage companies like a traditional VC would. Montana left HRJ in 2005 to spend more time with his sons pursuing their own football careers. Within a few years, the fund plummeted, going from $ 2.4 billion under management in 2008 to bankruptcy the following year, before a Swiss company bought its assets.

Liquid2 Ventures

For his next appearance, Joe has set up a traditional VC fund with some partners. They named the fund Liquid2 Ventures and soon raised around $ 30 million from investors.

As it turned out, one of Joe’s greatest assets was his decades of living and playing in the heart of Silicon Valley. After living in the Bay Area for decades and bringing home trophies, some of the valley’s most influential investors were his close confidantes. These investors became mentors and sources of supply for business.

One of those confidants was legendary Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway, who made billions from early investments in companies like Airbnb, Facebook, Google, and Reddit. Liquid2 was an early investor on Pinterest through Ron. That investment paid off when Pinterest went public in April 2019 with a valuation of $ 10 billion. Today, Pinterest’s market cap is $ 33 billion.

Montana’s other partners in Liquid 2 are Michael Ma – who sold local business reviews firm TalkBin to Google in 2011 – and Mike Miller, who founded data company Cloudant and sold it to IBM in 2014.

The partners have solid momentum, with Montana providing a pull that few other investors can match. After all, you don’t meet an NFL Hall of Fame player every day who also runs a VC company. Montana’s network is also extensive; Startups love how easy it is for them to introduce them to other potential partners.

In one case, a sports social media startup called GameOn wanted to meet Snoop Dogg. It turned out that Joe and Snoop’s sons were both attending the same soccer camp, so Montana did the initiation. And GameOn found an investor.


Aside from Pinterest, the company has invested in dozens of early-stage companies, including grocery delivery service Rappi, which reached unicorn status (billion dollar market cap), and Geometric Intelligence, which was acquired by Uber in 2016.

But as of this writing, Liquid2’s biggest touchdown is a company called GitLab.

GitLab is a code repository company. For laypeople, it’s a place where developers store, track, and collaborate on their software projects. GitLab is built on open source code and philosophies, but offers premium subscriptions for teams and companies. There is also a fee for third-party apps purchased by users within GitLab.

Think of it this way –

Imagine there are hundreds of thousands of chefs around the world who need a place to save their favorite recipes, collaborate on new recipes, and correct / improve other chefs’ recipes … This is GitLab for developers, where the recipes are theirs Finished and unfinished software are codes.

In 2015, GitLab raised $ 1.5 million as part of a seed funding round. At that point, the company was worth $ 12 million. Liquid2 raised $ 100,000 in this round.

GitLab, which has no headquarters despite more than 1,300 employees, prepared for an IPO last year. And that finally happened. The company debuted on the NASDAQ on Thursday under the ticker symbol GTLB.

The day before the IPO, the market was expecting a share price of $ 70, giving GitLab a market capitalization of …

$ 10 billion

At that level, Liquid2’s investment of $ 100,000 would be worth it …

$ 42 million

GitLab’s share price closed the trading day at $ 103.89 on Thursday. At this price per share, GitLab’s market capitalization is …

$ 15 billion

At that level, Liquid2’s $ 100,000 investment is now worth …

$ 63 million

GitLab is Liquid2’s first direct investment in the IPO (the Pinterest investment doesn’t technically count as they invested through Ron Conway’s fund).

As Joe told CNBC before going public (while on vacation with his family in Italy):

We’re all pretty pumped up. This is going to be a monster for us.

Joe also revealed that Liquid2 has 12 or 13 other unicorns in its portfolio preparing for IPOs on the horizon.

Oh, and Montana and its partners just raised $ 100 million for their third mutual fund. I wish I could have got on!

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