Signia Venture Partners is revealing its third early-stage venture capital fund today, with $85 million to invest. The venture firm, which has been investing since 2012, now has an expanded team, an investment focus on enterprise and consumer technology, and a wider geographic range.
The original fund started with managing directors Rick Thompson, Ed Cluss, and Zaw Thet. Thet left in May to join AI-driven fitness technology company Exer, with an investment from Signia. Sunny Dhillon, who has been at the firm since the outset, has become a managing director.
The third fund actually closed in late 2018, and the company has already made six investments from the new fund.
“We have invested from this new fund already, but we wanted to announce it with some new updates about our team, our expanded geographic focus, and our six investments,” said Dhillon in an interview with VentureBeat. “We are looking beyond our base of operations in the Bay Area.”
Signia Fund I
The original Signia Venture Partners fund invested in Cruise Automation, the autonomous vehicle tech company that recently achieved a $19 billion valuation, after spinning out of General Motors following a 2016 acquisition. Standout exits in that fund include FunPlus, a social mobile gaming startup sold to Chinese gaming conglomerate Zhongji for nearly $1 billion, and Tenor, acquired by Alphabet.
Investments in the fund also include enterprise carpooling company Scoop and Boxed, a wholesale digital dry goods seller.
Signia Fund II
Signia Venture Partners II started as an $85 million fund in 2015 and was actively invested through 2018. The two-dozen company portfolio includes Reali, a tech-enabled realtor that is closing over 50 houses per month and has raised $40 million in financing. Fortem utilizes advanced radar technology and machine learning to enable airports and other critical infrastructure to manage, detect, and secure the airspace against unauthorized drones. And StriVR is a leader in VR-assisted training that has been selected by enterprises such as Walmart, which has used StriVR to train over 750,000 U.S. workers to date.
Signia Fund III
Signia’s funds tend to be smaller than most others because the firm prefers to engage founders at an early stage with a high-touch approach. Despite meeting with hundreds of startup teams every year, Signia only invests in six to eight at a time. This focus stems from a desire to partner closely with every team that joins the portfolio and the belief that investments should only flow from strong conviction, Dhillon said.
The first fund focused on Silicon Valley businesses, but the company has now widened its focus to include opportunities in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Austin.
While the first fund centered around mobile devices, data analytics, games, marketing tech, ecommerce, transportation, fintech, and security, the second added vertical markets such as real estate, corporate training, and retail. It also focused on disruptive technologies, such as blockchain, machine learning, virtual reality, and radar- and drone-enabled computer vision.
“We spent a lot of time in games,” Dhillon said, adding that Thompson founded Playdom, a social gaming company Disney bought for $763 million in 2010. “We looked at the frontier of interactive media, and that led us into exploratory fields such as virtual reality and augmented reality. Now our team is very well balanced from a consumer and enterprise perspective,” he said.
The latest fund will take on consumer and enterprise investments, with a core focus on software. Of the six investments in the latest fund, two of the startups are still in stealth. The public investments include Sendoso, a sending platform that sources, warehouses, and manages company swag and customer gifting; Picap, which covers scooter ride-sharing; Exer, which is focused on computer vision-enabled motion coaching; and Inertia Systems, which tackles construction workflow.
Limited partners include major media companies, colleges, hospitals, national museums, and several large institutional funds. The company will continue to invest approximately $500,000 to $2.5 million per company.