All of us at Wing are incredibly pleased and thrilled to welcome Aaref Hilaly to Wing as our Partner. Aaref adds to Wing’s depth in business technology with an incredible proven record as the CEO of two companies over a decade followed by 7 years at Sequoia as a partner and investor.
Aaref brings considerable direct experience to Wing’s focus on the most transformative business technology sectors – CyberSecurity, Data Analytics, Cloud Infrastructure, AI-Powered Applications, and AI-Powered Life Science. He began his journey as an entrepreneur as the founding CEO of CenterRun, a pioneer in data center automation, which he sold to Sun Microsystems. Then, as CEO Aaref grew Clearwell, an E-Discovery application company, from zero to a $100M revenue run rate and profitability within five years, before its acquisition by Symantec. At Sequoia he led investments and served on the boards of several category defining companies such as Skyhigh (first CASB for Cloud Security), Guardant Health (Liquid Biopsy and NYSE:GH), analytics companies Lightstep and Thousand Eyes, and Clari (AI-Powered sales forecasting).
I first met Aaref 2001, when I was invited to join a CenterRun board meeting. We interacted over the next 10 years, including a memorable trip to the Caribbean where I experienced at first hand his upbeat demeanor and sense of humor - both so important to working with early stage companies still figuring out their products and business. We then served together on the board of MobileIron for 4 years. Aaref was utterly calm, thoughtful, logical and purposeful through the tremendous pressure we faced. He would ask questions no one else had thought of, which made me sit up and pay attention. And it was a surprise when he was able to gently persuade the board to make a difficult decision in a 15-minute span – a decision others had spent over a year advocating with futility.
One of Wing’s strengths is our ability to fuse the best attributes and lessons from great venture firms such as Accel (alma mater to our partners Peter and Jake) and Sequoia into a new model for our mission. In all our interactions Aaref over the years, including discussions about joining us at Wing, it became obvious we have a shared belief system. Some of it is the immigrant in many of us at Wing – feeling like an outsider or challenger and having to work harder and smarter. Early stage venture capital investing is an exception business -- openness to the unexpected in ways that challenge traditional norms is what leads to the greatest returns. Decision-making needs to be collaborative and unbiased with fully engaged partners. This can only be accomplished by a small, focused team, with complementary skills, personality, and background, as well as mutual respect and admiration for each other. Aaref embodies this ethos perfectly.
All of us at Wing are excited to be working with Aaref in building Wing and great companies together. Aaref, welcome to Wing!