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Joseph "Joe" Montana, co-founder of iMFL and retired National Football League (NFL) quarterback, speaks during an interview in San Francisco, California, U.S. on Tuesday, April 30, 2013.David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Joe Montana won his first Super Bowl as an NFL quarterback in 1982. Almost four decades later, he's about to get his first IPO as a venture capitalist.

Montana, who led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl victories and was inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame in 2000, has spent the past six years investing in start-ups through his firm, Liquid 2 Ventures. He started with a $28 million fund, and is now closing his third fund that's almost three times bigger.

One of Liquid 2's first investments was announced in July 2015, when a code repository called GitLab raised a $1.5 million seed round after going through the Y Combinator incubator program. GitLab's valuation at the time was around $12 million, and other participants in the financing included Khosla Ventures and Ashton Kutcher.

On Thursday, GitLab is set to debut on the Nasdaq with a market cap of almost $10 billion, based on a $69 share price, the high end of its range. Montana's initial $100,000 investment, along with some follow-on funding, is worth about $42 million at that price.

"We're all pretty pumped," Montana, 65, said in an interview this week, while vacationing in Italy. "This is going to be a monster for us."

Joe Montana #16 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after they scored against the Cincinnati Bengals during Super Bowl XVI on January 24, 1982 at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. The Niners won the Super Bowl 26 -21.Focus On Sport | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

While famous athletes dabbling in start-ups has become a trend in Silicon Valley — from NBA stars Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala to tennis legend Serena Williams — Montana jumped into the game much earlier. Prior to Liquid 2, Montana was involved with a firm called HRJ, which was founded by ex-49ers stars Harris Barton and Ronnie Lott.

HRJ, which invested in other funds rather than directly into companies, collapsed in 2009 and was sued for allegedly failing to meet its financial commitments.

But rather than return to the sport that brought him fame in an executive role or as a broadcaster, like so many fellow all-star quarterbacks, Montana stuck with investing. This time he took much a different route.

Convinced by Ron Conway

Ron Conway, the Silicon Valley super angel known for lucrative bets on Google, Facebook and Airbnb, started showing Montana around the world of early-stage investing, primarily through Y Combinator. Montana, along with a growing crop of seed investors and celebrities, would attended Y Combinator Demo Days, where entrepreneurs show slides of their companies with growth that's always up and to the right.

"We were trying to see what their secret sauce was and who they looked at and what they were really looking for in early-stage companies," Montana said referring to Conway and his team. "He started taking us there, and we started doing a handful of investments here and there, and then he talked me into starting a fund."

In 2015, Conway was speaking to the latest group of founders in the Y Combinator program, and he invited Montana to attend the event. That's where Montana met GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij, a Dutch entrepreneur who had turned an open-source project for helping developers collaborate on code into a company that was packaging the software and selling it to businesses.

"We got together, and said, 'hey this is a special guy,'" Montana said. "We committed that night."

GitLab had just come out of Y Combinator. In his presentation at Demo Day that March, Sijbrandij told the audience that his company had 10 employees along with 800 contributors working on the open-source project. GitLab was on pace for annual sales of $1 million, he said, and paying customers included Apple, Cisco, Disney and Microsoft.

GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij at company event in LondonGitLab

GitLab now employs over 1,350 people in more than 65 countries, according to its prospectus. As it prepares to hit the public market on Thursday, GitLab's annualized revenue is over $230 million. Sales in the second quarter jumped 69% to $58.1 million

However, because GitLab spends the equivalent of three-quarters of its revenue on sales and marketing, the company recorded a net loss of $40.2 million in the latest quarter. Much of the marketing budget is focused on expanding its DevOps (the combination of software development and IT operations) user base.

"To drive new customer growth, we intend to continue investing in sales and marketing, with a focus on replacing DIY DevOps within larger organizations," the company said in the prospectus.

'Still listening to pitches'

For Montana, GitLab marks his firm's first IPO, though he said "we have 12 or 13 more unicorns in the portfolio," referring to start-ups valued at $1 billion or more. They include Anduril, the defense technology company led by by Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, and autonomous vehicle testing start-up Applied Intuition.

Montana has three other partners in the firm: Mike Miller, who co-founded Cloudant and sold it to IBM; Michael Ma, who sold a start-up to Google and became a product manager there; and Nate Montana, Joe's son, who previously worked at Twitter.

Montana said he's involved in the fund on a day-to-day basis and attends the partner meetings every Tuesday. He said his partners, who are more experienced in technology, handle much of the technical diligence and sourcing of deals, while he focuses on helping portfolios with connections in his network.

"Until the pandemic, I was still speaking around the country," Montana said, adding that he didn't start taking a salary until the third fund. "I was out speaking to companies like SAP, Amex, Visa and a lot of large corporations, like large insurance firms down to Burger King."

Specific to GitLab, Montana said he connected Sijbrandij early on with a senior executive at Visa, when the company was looking to do a deal with the payment processor.

"I'm still listening to pitches, I go to pitches and do all that," Montana said. "But my time is better spent now helping with connecting these companies as they mature."

WATCH: GitLab co-founder and CEO on the future of work during and after the pandemic

VIDEO2:4002:40GitLab co-founder and CEO on the future of work during and after the pandemicWorldwide ExchangeTVWATCH LIVEWATCH IN THE APPUP NEXT | ETListen

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Biden returns to retail politics to rescue his biggest deal yet

(CNN)Joe Biden, showing candor and good humor, on Thursday reminded America why it picked him as President in a dark hour of crisis. But, at a CNN town hall in Baltimore, he also showed his tendency to send his own White House into emergency damage control as he flipped set-in-stone policy off the cuff, and offered gaping openings for his Republican foes.

Heading into the prime-time event, the President needed to stabilize a White House that seemed overtaken by events several times in recent months -- from the Covid-19 Delta variant surge to the Afghanistan withdrawal. It was vital for him to recapture the impression of competence that resonated from his presidential campaign at a time when then-President Donald Trump was bungling the fight against Covid-19. Overall, Biden appeared to do his stalled Washington agenda considerable good, and completed some handy repair work on a presidential image badly scarred by a wretched summer that dented his approval ratings. The President also kindled the hopes of liberals by suggesting an openness in the future to amending the Senate filibuster rule, which Republicans use to strangle the most sweeping Democratic reform measures.
    6 takeaways from Joe Bidens CNN town hallHe did detonate new controversies over China and on the administration's blind spot over record arrivals of undocumented migrants at the southern border and he raised new questions about his command of a supply chain crunch.
      But at its most basic level, presidential politics is about character. Successful presidents must show control, authenticity and empathy for the struggles of the people that they lead. Biden came across as humble, decent and humane -- in his element with the audience. His self-deprecation was in stark contrast to the constantly boastful persona and raging victim-complex of his predecessor and was one of the keys to why he beat Trump last year.Read MoreBiden also made a somewhat belated effort to sell the country on his infrastructure and social spending agenda, with which much of the nation is largely unfamiliar. After days of behind-closed-doors negotiations, he gave a fascinating glimpse into the tough negotiations and painful compromises that will have to be made to pass the measures. He put meat on plans for social care spending, and explained why free community college and vision insurance might be dropped in order to build a majority to pass the measure.The President had to make progress in finally bringing progressives and Senate moderates together to seal a deal on the pared down agenda he must thread through the eye of a 50-50 Senate majority and tiny edge in the House. The next few days in Washington will show whether he succeeded.Biden has been mostly out of sight for days. His promised travel blitz to convince the country of the merits of the most ambitious social overhaul in generations barely got off the ground. But with his skill for talking to voters face-to-face on display on Thursday night, some supporters may wonder why the President doesn't get out more and do what he does best. "I think he did pretty well. He is always good at expressing support for people who are struggling and working hard out there," David Axelrod, a former strategist for President Barack Obama and a senior CNN political analyst, said.Biden says hes open to altering filibuster on voting rightsThe President was also under intense pressure Thursday to convince a key constituency -- African American voters -- that he could still deliver for them after they sent him on his way to the presidency. One questioner in the audience beseeched Biden to do more to save voting rights legislation blocked again in the Senate on Wednesday by Republicans. In response, Biden -- who appeared to be wrestling between his conscience and the needs of political strategy -- went further than he had before in suggesting he could eventually be open to changes to the Senate filibuster. He strolled the stage, deep in thought, before suggesting he could be open to reshaping the Senate on voting rights and even more issues. It's a tough ask since several Democratic senators are opposed. And with characteristic honesty, Biden said he could not push for the move until he got his two big bills passed. If it happens, it will be huge news.But that issue, along with details about the spending plans and Capitol Hill procedure, was mostly inside baseball for Washington power players, although an answer on Taiwan will have rattled some officials in Beijing.Biden makes himself some room in negotiations Joking that he had been a senator for 370 years before becoming vice president in 2009, Biden showed the political skills that might pull his ambitious legislative plans back from the precipice of defeat. After being locked in negotiations with fellow senators for days, he was still able to put across the human impact of his bills in an understandable form for an audience of non-politicians. He drew analogies with his own long middle-class life.He also offered the most concrete predictions that weeks of deadlock between progressives could actually yield a deal, which would open the way for both bills and one of the most expansive Democratic presidential legacies in years.But Biden also gave himself political room for maneuver. While progressive Democrats have spent days slamming West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for balking at the $3.5 trillion cost of the social infrastructure plan, Biden praised both lawmakers. He was disarmingly frank about the reasons why Manchin opposes global warming programs that could hasten the eclipse of coal mining in his state and why Sinema is against tax rate hikes.In a rueful aside that encapsulated his grinding legislative quest, Biden quipped: "When you are in the United States Senate and you're President of the United States, and you have 50 Democrats, every one is a president. So you gotta work things out."Sinema is smart as the devil and Manchin is not a bad guy, Biden saysOne of the reasons that Biden is a sometimes unintentionally fascinating political figure is that his natural candor, and tendency to fire off unguided rhetorical missiles, makes his appearances a high-wire act. He got his tendency to create gaffes under control in a highly scripted presidential campaign. But it's always lurking in the background, and on Thursday he offered a number of instantly damaging remarks that will embroider the Republican narrative that the 78-year-old President is out of his depth, and oblivious to some of the biggest challenges facing the nation.At one point, Biden suggested that he would be open to calling in the National Guard to help alleviate a supply chain crunch that has clogged ports, spiked inflation and emptied shelves in some supermarkets. "Yes, absolutely, positively. 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