The early-stage venture firm Obvious Ventures has a sense of humor that any math nerd can appreciate. The three-year-old, San Francisco-based firm closed its debut fund with $123,456,789. (They said at the time they just wanted to have a little fun with their Form D filing.)
Today, the firm is announcing the close of its second fund, and the amount this time is $191,919,191, a number the partners targeted after ruminating about which one-digit number might best represent it second fund. According to partner James Joaquin, the thinking went: “One nine-digit number… one nine… one nine… so in the Obvious tradition we reverse-engineered to: $191,919,191.”
It’s a “palindrome comprised of a two-digit repeating sequence,” he writes on Medium.
So far, Obvious has invested in 35 companies, including Diamond Foundry, which is growing cultured diamonds in plasma reactors in the Bay Area; Beyond Meat, an L.A.-based company at work on plant-based products designed to taste like, and eventually replace, chicken and beef; Gusto, a San Francisco-based HR and payroll services company whose marketing strategy appears to include shaming its closest rival, Zenefits, in the media; and Olly, a Tiburon, Calif.-based company whose sweet vitamins, delivered in gummy form and packed in playful, eye-catching containers, are flying off a growing number of shelves.
Obvious Ventures’s overarching mission, which remains unchanged, it to invest in “world positive” companies that deliver positive social and environmental benefits and also have the potential to create big returns for its investors. It doesn’t have any exits quite yet, but Joaquin says that many of the firm’s portfolio companies have now matured from the idea phase into “category-leading businesses.”
The outfit’s new capital is coming from the firm’s earlier limited partners, as well as more than 12 “top-tier institutional investors” who’ve gotten behind the firm for the first time, says Joaquin.
As industry observers will know, its first and most famous LP is serial entrepreneur Ev Williams, who also signed up again as an investor.
Obvious is managed by four general partners: Williams, who co-founded the firm (as well as Medium, Twitter and Pyra Labs before it); Joaquin, who was previously a partner at Catamount Ventures; Vishal Vasishth, who was most recently the founding partner of SONG Investment Advisors, an India-based fund; and Andrew Beebe, whose previous job was as VP of NextEra Energy Resources.
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