Joe Merrill is the co-founder and Partner of Sputnik ATX, and Partner in the Linden group of venture funds based in Austin, Texas. Merrill is a former U.S. diplomat and served as a political, economic and consular officer at U.S. Embassies in Bosnia, Nigeria, and South Korea as well as postings at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.. After leaving the State Department, Merrill worked in corporate treasury, finance and development at Deere and Company before entering the private equity world at a Carlyle-Apollo education fund, Apollo Global. Overall, Joe has over $3 billion of transaction experience in venture investing. Merrill has also founded and exited two start-ups, Pan Am Education and Smart FundEd. He enjoys running around Town Lake in Austin, especially with his wife.