Self-billed as, “The best place in the world to meet your co-founder”, London-based scaleup investor in early-stage founder talent Entrepreneur First has raised $158 million in a Series C funding round.
The Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford-founded organisation is quick to point out that this is a funding round and not a fund. $100 million is earmarked for direct investments over the next three years, with the remaining funding to be used to provide a capacity to experiment, innovate and launch new products aimed at employing methods anything but de rigueur of today’s venture capital model.
“EF is completely unique in the early-stage funding landscape. Our whole effort focuses on talent rather than typical venture capital deal flow. We don't try and win deals, we don't pick deals, we find great people. That brings big strengths,” explained Clifford. “The ability to partner before there even is a company is both a relationship and an economic strength.”
To date, Entrepreneur First has invested in 343 companies, acted as lead on 92 of these investments, and has seen 22 portfolio company exits including Magic Pony Technology (acquired by Twitter); Passfort (acquired by Moody’s); Credit Kudos; Bloomsbury AI; Scape; Atlas ML (Papers With Code); and Sonantic (acquired by Spotify), totaling in excess of $680 million.
Additional EF alumni include notable firms computer vision insurance industry unicorn Tractable, remote teams HR and onboarding platform Omnipresent, Aztec Protocol (the private transaction protocol, funded by Paradigm); financial management apo Cleo, and privacy-compliant advertising infrastructure platform Permutive.
Combined, the aggregate value of companies created through the EF platform now exceeds $10 billion.
“As the value of EF’s portfolio companies passes $10 billion, we feel we’re just getting started. We want EF to have a product to enable every ambitious individual to find their co-founder. EF is already one of the world’s great talent communities and with this new funding and these new investors, we’re looking forward to partnering with thousands of more exceptional founders in the coming years,” commented Bentinck.
As for the investors behind EF’s fresh $158 million, well hang on to your hat as this list includes a virtual who’s who of the tech industry: John and Patrick Collison (co-founders of Stripe), Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of Wise), Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn), Matt Mullenweg (co-founder of Wordpress), Tom Blomfield (co-founder of Monzo and GoCardless), Nat Friedman (former CEO of Github), Sara Clemens (former COO of Twitch and Pandora), Matt Robinson (co-founder of Nested and GoCardless), Patrick O’Shaughnessy (Positive Sum), Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman (co-founders of Deepmind), Sten Tamkivi, Elad Gil and Lachy Groom.
“We are entering a new era for venture funding, with a new generation of global founders needing support to build iconic companies from scratch. I’m excited to be part of this world-class syndicate,” stated LinkedIn EF board member Reid Hoffman. “We’re all passionate about the power of entrepreneurship to change people’s lives and to change the world. Entrepreneur First represents a new way for talented people to access that opportunity and a new way to build startup ecosystems outside Silicon Valley.”