Venture firms just closed a $485 million fund by promising hands-on (full-time) help – TechCrunch

Unusual joint ventureVrionis told us in chat earlier this week that an organization now of 30 people, founded nearly five years ago by former Lightspeed Ventures investor John Vrionis and serial entrepreneur Jyoti Bansal, has closed the fund. third with 485 million USD committed capital.

Vrionis, the company’s sole executive but has acquired three general partners in the past year, said it’s not a huge step up from the $425 million Unusual raised for its second fund. himself in late 2019. Among these was serial entrepreneur Lars Albright (he sold his last two companies to Apple and Master Card, corresponding); Sandhya Hegde, who was previously an investor at both Khosla Ventures and Sequoia Capital; and Wei Lien Dang, co-founder of cloud-based security company StackRox, sold to Red Hat last year.

Bansal is still heavily involved in the company, according to Vrionis, who said Bansal sits on a handful of boards for Extraordinary.

Bansal also oversees Unusual’s “founder service” program, in which the company arranges team members like Albright and venture partners like Nextdoor co-founder Sarah Leary, who have equity stakes in the fund. inside portfolio companies for many months on a full-time basis to help them achieve so-called product market fit and otherwise strengthen them. (“That’s the difference between me giving you sleep training and becoming a night nurse,” says Vrionis of the show.)

Partly notable, Bansal’s involvement, as he is also the CEO of two (!) startups in which Unusual has a stake. One of these, a developer tools company called Exploitannounced a Series D round of $230 million last week at a valuation of 3.7 billion dollars (equivalent to the amount of Cisco pay for one of Bansal’s earlier companies, AppDynamics, in 2017).

Bansal’s second company, AI can tracka startup offering services designed to protect APIs from cyberattacks, meanwhile announced $60 million in Series B funding (including from Unusual, of course) just yesterday at more valuation $450 million.

However, the joint help of the likes of Bansal and others in Unusual (including executive partner Scott Schwarzoff, former VP of product marketing at Okta) is crucial in this market landscape. no more, Vrionis suggested.

“There are a lot of people trying to be early stage investors — old multi-tier companies, some new entrants coming from the hedge fund world, incubators,” he said. “However, while the supply of capital available to founders has increased, they also need experienced people to spend time helping them.”

However, founders have to overcome hurdles first. Unusually only invests in 12 or more companies per year, writing an initial check of $2 million to $10 million initially at the seed or pre-seed stage, where the company can be the first one that a startups raised.

The companies – with the biggest bet in terms of committed capital are Traceable and Vivin, the makers of the “buyer experience” software announced $56 million Vrionis said in funding so far – there will be exceptions, but not often. (One “opportunistic” investment it made was to check out privacy activist firm Artic Wolf Networks, which filed for privacy for an IPO, although its chief executive said there was no timeline to move. Unusual is also an investor in fintech firm Carta, which was already a Series C company at the time Unusual was founded. And it supported the now-public trading platform Robinhood in one of its later rounds.)

As for other criteria, Vrionis says that just over 50% of the founders Unusual has backed to date are “repetitively successful founders” because they know how important it is to lay the groundwork for the future. . (“The reason 90% of startups fail by year five is that so many of them didn’t do the right things early on,” says Vrionis.)

He also said core areas that Unusual is “extremely interested in” include infrastructure software, SaaS, fintech, e-commerce and social market businesses.

When asked if Unusual has a ‘web3’ strategy, he said that Unusual has “actually been pretty active there. It’s one of these important grounding shifts that you’re lucky to be around if you’re in business at a time like this. It’s everything from the infrastructure to support blockchains and decentralized nodes, to the applications themselves. We’ve actually made some unannounced investments in both of which you’ll soon be making public. ”

So far, he added, Unusual has only taken equity, but the team has “definitely discussed the idea of ​​how tokens will participate in investments.”

Pictured above, the Unusual Ventures team, with Vrionis at the center.

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