Vertical Venture Partners Team

Dave Schwab


David Schwab, Founder and Managing Director

Dave has a 15 year operating background in engineering management at Lockheed Martin, sales management at Sun Microsystems and executive management at Scopus Technology. At Lockheed his projects involved guidance and control systems for airplanes and satellites. At Sun he managed a local sales territory in Santa Clara, CA. After his tenure at Sun, he co-founded Scopus Technology, an IPO success story in the CRM space. Scopus was subsequently sold to Siebel Systems in a $500M transaction.

Dave started his venture career at Sierra Ventures where he helped build the Enterprise Software Practice. He also created and managed the CIO Advisory Board to a strength of 75 Fortune 500 CIOs in multiple vertical markets.

At Vertical Venture Partners his focus is vertical CRM, business intelligence applications, mobile, and university commercialization.

Some of Dave’s prior investments include Micromuse (NASDAQ: MUSE; sold to IBM), Saleslogix (NASDAQ: SLGX; sold to Sage), Fatbrain (NASDAQ: CMPL), 360Commerce (sold to Oracle), Parature (sold to Microsoft), Corrigo (sold to JLL), On-Link (sold to Siebel Systems) and Opalis (sold to Microsoft).

Dave is active with Amria, Embroker, Concert Health, Inbox Health , Soci, and Zipari.


BA – UC San Diego, Systems Science
MS – Stanford University, Aerospace Engineering
ENG – Stanford University, Aerospace Engineering
Thesis Topic: Control Systems for Large Space Structures
MBA – Harvard Business School

More color about David:

I began my career in engineering, first at UC San Diego and then 2 graduate degrees in Aerospace Engineering at Stanford.  My thesis at Stanford concerned the stability and control of a large space antenna. I have a picture of that antenna; my wife won’t let me hang it anywhere.

I was a practicing engineer for 5 years at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company (now Lockheed-Martin) where I worked on a variety of guidance and control systems. I spent 5 years working full time and getting those 2 degrees. I didn’t do anything else. One of the great aspects of my role at Lockheed was seeing my work thru to actual installation on a vehicle. As such, I was required to put my designs thru a battery of environmental tests; shock, vibration, temperature, EMP, etc. If you ever get a chance to be in a room with a shaker table, do it.

I didn’t see myself at Lockheed long term and I was very interested in the business side of engineering. I applied to multiple business schools and was very fortunate to be accepted at the Harvard Business School. This was a great 2-year experience and Boston was a great place to live. I graduated in 1986: Section A.  While most of my class was accepting jobs in consulting and investment banking I was still interested in engineering and I took a marketing/sales job at Sun Microsystems. This role helped me identify Life Lesson #1; The power of a sales person who is in love with the product they sell. I was a CAD engineer, selling CAD computers, to CAD customers. This was a dream job and I did very well, I think, because my enthusiasm for Sun products came thru every day.

I was fortunate (again) to meet many great people at Sun and I co-founded a software company with a Sun colleague and 3 others. The company, named Scopus Technology, was one of the first companies in the field of CRM. In 1991 the idea of software to automate sales and customer service, not accounting and finance, was a new idea. We didn’t realize that we were standing on this giant wave. We soon understood. Life Lesson # 2. Sometimes it is good to be lucky. But you need to be smart enough to see it. Scopus was highly successful going from startup up to IPO in 7 years and then a sale to Siebel Systems for 1/3 of Siebel’s market cap at the time. A great result for all involved. And many thanks to my Scopus co-founders for an amazing journey.

Following Scopus, I entered the venture capital industry taking a partner role at Sierra Ventures focused primarily on early-stage enterprise technologies. My first investment was a company named Micromuse which sold software for network management, automating the millions of SNMP events that flow from network and compute infrastructure in a large enterprise. Micromuse achieved revenues of > $200M, went public and was acquired by IBM for $800M. During my tenure at Sierra, I created the Sierra CIO Advisory Board. The premise was that if you were going to be an investor in enterprise technology you should really be around CIO’s of the Fortune 500 in a consistent and systematic way. This turned out to be a smart idea and I ended up spending quality time with dozens of CIO’s.

About 7 years ago I began to hear a whisper from these CIO’s and this whisper turned into a roar. These CIO’s were frustrated with buying horizontal technologies that didn’t solve their business problem. I had CIO’s explaining they had spent $2M on Salesforce and $8M on Deloitte and 2 years and $10M later they still didn’t have CRM for their business. This dynamic was true for CRM, BI, AI&ML, almost every platform technology.  And, each industry needed a “verticalized” version of the platform.  I also discovered that CIO’s were indeed shifting budget dollars away from horizontal and towards vertical. This seemed like a great opportunity for a venture fund that focused on companies that were dedicated to solving problems in one industry, and really solving the problem 100%. Vertical Venture Partners was borne on this premise. Life Lesson #3. Surround yourself with people smarter than you. Good things will happen.

Paul Conley


Paul Conley, Managing Director

Paul has 15 years of operating experience in technical and management roles. He worked for six years at Los Alamos National Labs where he led doctoral and post-doctoral research projects in the computational modeling of high explosive materials and components. Following his research career he entered the commercial world where he founded two companies. He was the founding CEO of both BrightScale and Appfluent Technology, where he drove strategy, operations and fund raising. Appfluent developed enterprise software for management of high-performance relational databases. BrightScale developed massively parallel multi-core microprocessors for applications in big data analytics and high definition image/video processing.

Since 2007, Paul has been a venture capital investor in early stage technology companies. He began his investing career at Paladin Capital Group, a firm with specialty in security and defense technologies with commercial application. At Paladin, he has invested broadly in enterprise software, semiconductors and life sciences. At Vertical Venture Partners, Paul has particular interest in commercialization of technologies coming out of major research universities.

Paul in an active investor who often leverages operating experience by serving on portfolio company boards. Examples of current Board roles: Twist Bioscience, 10X Genomics, HealthTell, IonPath, Menlo Microsystems.


PhD – UC San Diego, Computational Physics
Thesis Topic: Analysis of Solid Viscosity in Porous HNS
ME – UC San Diego, Bioengineering
MS – University of Virginia, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Thesis Topic: Dynamics of Vehicles Modified for the Disabled
BS – University of Virginia, Mechanical Engineering

Brad Corona


Brad Corona, Managing Director

Brad has 16 years of investment, operating, and corporate advisory experience, including roles as an investment banker, entrepreneur, and early-stage investment professional. At Vertical Venture Partners, he focuses on SaaS, marketplaces, healthcare IT, and tech-enabled healthcare services. He is actively involved with portfolio companies Mudflap, Redeam, Concert Health, Ordermark, and Tasso.

Previously, Brad was a Partner at Lakewood & Company, where he led the due diligence and execution of early-stage venture capital investments.  Before Lakewood, Brad worked with multiple family offices on early and growth-stage investments across multiple sub-verticals within technology and healthcare.  Previously, he was the Co-Founder and CEO of an e-commerce business in the retail vertical.  He began his career as an investment banker at Jefferies in the New York office, where he spent six years in the Financial Sponsors and Healthcare groups on capital raising, advisory, and M&A engagements.


Brad received his BA in Business Economics from Brown University and was captain of the varsity squash team.

Strategic Advisors

Mark Angel

CTO, Renaissance Learning

General Manager, Nuance Communications

Bruce Armstrong

Operating Partner, Khosla Ventures

VP & General Manager, Teradata

Kia Behnia

CTO, BMC Software

Vice President, Splunk

Lloyd Carney

CEO, Brocade Communication

Board Member, Visa International

Peter Flaherty

Managing Director, Arcon Partners

Director Emeritus, McKinsey & Company, Inc.

Prabhu Goel

Chairman, FusionOps Inc

Board of Directors, Cadence Design Systems

Clark Golestani

President Emerging Businesses and

Global CIO, Merck

Steve Hart

Founder and CTO ViaSat

Engineering Executive Linkabit

Fran Harvey

Former Secretary of the Army

Former Executive at Westinghouse

Robert Locke

SVP Corporate Development, Tyco

VP & Managing Director, Tyco Ventures

Rahul Merchant

Sr. Executive Vice President

Head of Client Services & Technology


Al Pisano

Professor & Dean, Jacobs School

of Engineering, UC San Diego

Professor & Chair, Mechanical

Engineering, UC Berkeley.

Bryan Richardson

Senior Program Officer of
Measurement Learning, and Evaluation at the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Co-Founder and Partner, UPD Consulting

Bill Vass

VP Engineering, Amazon Web Services

President & CEO, Liquid Robotics

Chuck Wallace

Co-founder, Esurance

Board Member, Advisor, Consultant and Investor with multiple companies and private equity firms

Bill Warner

Board of Directors, Community

Hospital Monterey Peninsula

President, Naval Postgraduate

School Foundation

John J. Young, Jr

Board of Directors, Tenax Aerospace

Board of Directors, SRI International

Tim Richardson

Strategic Advisor to Georgia Tech Research Institute