Ignition’s John Connors on Nike’s FuelBand, Enterprise Software and Investing (Video)

John Connors was Microsoft’s chief finance guy for five years, responsible for managing one of the largest tech company’s books.

For the past seven years, however, he’s been contributing his fiscal know-how and diversity of opinions to the venture business, joining Bellevue’s Ignition Partners in 2005.

As a member of Nike’s board, the FuelBand wearer explains how the Internet is disrupting the retail business. Strong distribution channels — think Amazon — are enabling new consumer brands to be created overnight with nothing but a hotshot clothing designer and access to cheap manufacturing. But, he says, services like the FuelBand have the opportunity to keep brands relevant to consumers on a daily basis.

He also points to “the next big cycle in the enterprise.”

Over the past few years, he says, not many interesting enterprise companies were created, but “in the past 24 months there’s been more interesting companies than I’ve seen in years. … By the end of this year, the general public will be talking about the next cycle for the enterprise.”

And yet, his latest investment has nothing to do with the enterprise.

Motif Investing, based in San Mateo, Calif., has raised $26 million, with Ignition Partners participating in the most recent round. The company could be described as Etrade meets Twitter’s trending topics.

For example, instead of investing in individual companies or mutual funds, the company identifies themes, or “motifs.”

The “Caffeine Fix” motif reasons that caffeine’s addictive qualities will continue to drive the popularity and success of Coca-Cola, Starbucks and energy drinks. The motif labeled “Drill, Baby, Drill!” is focused on the winners of domestic drilling. “Lots of Likes” focuses on the 20 most-“Liked” brands on Facebook.

As a Montana native, Connors prefers motifs about agriculture-based themes. See, we told you his interests were broad!

In an hour-long chat in the venture firm’s offices, which look like any other suburban cubicle farm, we covered a lot of subjects. Here are some of the highlights:


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