One of the first investors in Uber and Salesforce reveals how he picks startup investments that will blow up

A view from the top of Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. Melia Robinson/Business Insider

In 1999, Mike Walsh cut his first check as a hobby venture capitalist to a little-known cloud startup called He used the company’s product as a customer first, and liked it enough to invest.

Almost two decades later, Salesforce does over $8 billion in revenue annually, and has a market cap of $94 billion. Walsh gave half his stock to his dad, a plumber, as a birthday present and sold the other half after the company went public in 2004. He continued to write angel investment checks while also running a software company that provides social networking services to enterprises.

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