Update at 5:40 p.m. PT: Updated with clarification about voting in shareholder decisions, not board decisions.
When Aydin Senkut left Google and started to invest some money in companies in 2006, he operated pretty much like an angel investor during the first four years.
Today, his venture capital firm, Felicis Ventures, is announcing the close of its fourth round of $96 million, a short four years after raising its first in 2010.
As a fairly small firm and fund, Felicis is taking a focused approach to its investing, much like others, but it’s doing it with a twist. Instead of focusing on specific industries, it’s looking for companies in what it calls the “reinvention of core markets” (security, mobile commerce, and intelligence) and in the “development of frontier areas” (drones, Bitcoin, and machine learning).
Disclosure: Senkut is one of VentureBeat’s investors.
And instead of sticking to one investment stage, Felicis is keeping an open mind, as long as the opportunities are incredible, though it does tend to invest in the earlier stages.
“Size is one of our key weapons. It allows us to be flexible,” said partner Renata Quintini in an interview with VentureBeat. “Once you have a smaller asset base to manager, there are more paths for your success to align with the success of the founders,” she said.
The firm will, however, lead more investments with this round, said partner Sundeep Peechu.
Felicis is also a founder-centric firm, meaning that it both looks for what it calls “iconic founders,” which it defines as having an incredibly strong vision, and who are building companies in the two areas above.
“The key driver is ‘do I have conviction in your vision?’” said Peechu.
In the spirit of its founder-centric approach, Felicis is now committing to always voting its investor shares alongside the founders when decisions are put to a shareholder vote, including in merger-and-acquisition cases or during fund-raising.
“Founders are best equipped to make decisions for their companies,” said Peechu. While some angel investors have taken up that practice, Felicis is the first known institutional venture capital fund to do this, differentiating it from its peers.
Although Felicis has not started investing out of its new fund, its previous funds’ track record is impressive. Out of 120 investments, 50 have already been involved in acquisition deals or gone public, and its investments have a global reach, such as Canada’s Shopify or Finland’s Rovio. The firm doesn’t maintain non-U.S. offices, making its international portfolio unusual.
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