For decades, Brian Valentine led big projects at big companies.
At Microsoft, where he worked from 1987 to 2006, Valentine led the Exchange, Windows XP and Windows 2000 teams. At Amazon.com, where he worked from 2006 until his retirement this February, he led the company’s eCommerce platform organization.
But now the longtime tech exec is working at a small startup geared toward creating other startups.
Valentine recently joined Ivy Softworks, a Seattle-based company located in Pioneer Square that calls itself an “innovation studio.”
Ivy Softworks is trying to create a new model for startups.
The traditional startup model is of a team of people working on one idea, with occasional input from advisers, and constantly going after rounds of funding.
Ivy Softworks, which currently has 15 employees, aims to hire a core team of people who will work on several ideas/projects at a time, with senior-level advisers available daily. If, for instance, a team member enjoys working at the prototyping stage, she’ll be able to work on that across multiple projects; or if a person prefers growing a company to the IPO stage, he’ll be able to do that across several projects.
Once a project becomes ready to spin off from Ivy Softworks as a company in its own right, the employees that have worked on that project have the choice of becoming an employee of the spun-off company, or remaining an employee of Ivy Softworks, Valentine said.
The company is “well funded for the next five years,” said Valentine.
He declined to disclose who the investors are but said that that information will be revealed when the company unveils its first project sometime in the first half of next year. Ivy Softworks already has ideas or visions about several different products or companies, and is currently working on three of them, all having to do with consumer productivity and collaboration, he said.
When Valentine retired from Amazon in February, he had no intention of going back to work so soon. He did a bunch of things on his bucket list, including traveling to Pakistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Turkey, sometimes staying for a month in each place. His intention was to spend a few years doing the things on his bucket list.
But within a couple of weeks of leaving Amazon, he was contacted by several startups, and decided that if he went back to work again, it wouldn’t be at a large company but at a startup.
Then he read about Ritter starting Ivy Softworks. He was intrigued and contacted the company. He became excited about “the chance for me to work on multiple things at the same time, build the teams around those companies, work with other cool people, and not have to all day long be looking for the next round of money.”
At Ivy Softworks,Valentine, a managing principal, will be responsible for growing the engineering team for the studio, as well as working with the engineering teams of companies that may spin out from Ivy Softworks.Information in this blog post, originally published Oct. 2, 2014, was corrected Oct. 3, 2010. A previous version of this post incorrectly reported that Valentine said Ivy Softworks already has ideas or visions about seven different products or companies. Valentine actually said Ivy Softworks has ideas or visions about several different products or companies.