Society News Update, 26 Jan. 2017

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Attention Fellows: Interviewers Needed

We ask for your help in the next 3 months to interview the great candidates that have been nominated by our Society for Class 22. Interviewers’ feedback strongly influences admission decisions, and each Fellow who interviews a candidate provides an important perspective. Please complete this form if you are able to assist, letting us know your availability during January–March. Your prompt response is much appreciated and will help us schedule candidates efficiently.


  • Eric Hallstein (Class 15) discusses conservation investing trends
  • Jonathan Lehr (Class 19) and Work–Bench release enterprise funding report
  • Portfolio happenings: Alchemist Accelerator (Ravi Belani, Class 11) closes $2.5M fund • Invitalia Ventures (Salvo Mizzi, Class 16 & Mario Scuderi, Class 21) funds ocean-wave energy startup • Emergence Capital (Santi Subotovsky, Class 15) joins Series D in follow-on funding for Zoom
  • Fellows on the move: Daphne Dufresne (Class 5) • Neena Kadaba (Class 13) • Peter Lee (Class 13)
  • This week’s blog selections: Patrick Burtis (Class 11) writes the first in a series of articles he calls “Got, Get” • Brad Feld (KF BOD) writes about his ideal reporting tempo for startups and their boards • Gil Dibner (Class 13) has a follow-up post to his 2016 Europe & Israel review, looking forward to 2017
  • Job opportunities (NEW): Gates Foundation Venture CapitalBurberry

Eric Hallstein (Class 15) Discusses Conservation Investing Trends

Forest Trends logoEric Hallstein (Class 15) co-authored a piece appearing in GreenBiz: “The State of Private Investment in Conservation.” This article is a brief summary of the State of Private Investment in Conservation 2016 report, produced by a consortium of diverse organizations that surveyed 128 investors on their conservation impact investment activity; it is a follow-up investigation for a similar 2014 survey. The 2016 edition is thus the first report to begin showing a trend: the conservation sector’s shift from “a niche product” to an emerging market, highlighting positive trends (e.g., growth within the sector, increasing funds for investment) as well as challenges—such as a lack of standardized metrics for measuring conservation impact. [Forest Trends press release]

Investments are considered part of the “conservation” category if their purpose is to make a profit or return principal while also creating a positive impact on natural resources or ecosystems. The environmental benefit must be the intended reason for the investment, “not just a lucky byproduct.”

Forbes logoIn his role as director of conservation investments and chief economist at the Nature Conservancy, Eric was interviewed for a similar article appearing in Forbes. In  “Good and Bad News for Conservation Startups and Investors,” he describes another conservation impact investment challenge—there are more funds than investment choices in the sector: “There aren’t enough products, whether direct deals or funds, out there to absorb all of that capital.”

Jonathan Lehr (Class 19) and Work–Bench Release Enterprise Funding Report

Work–Bench logoWork-Bench’s Managing Director Jonathan Lehr (Class 19) co-authored “Work–Bench Enterprise Funding Report: Will 2017 Be the Year Unicorns Earn Their Horns?” Their report reviews the enterprise technology sector for 2016, comparing it to the two previous years to show national funding-round trends, deal count directions, and the state of New York and NYC’s enterprise startup ecosystem in particular. 2016’s general decrease in late-stage investment, the authors say, suggests that “2017 will be the moment of truth as these companies [Series D and up] either earn their horns and raise additional capital at favorable terms after cleaning up their metrics in 2016 or be forced to raise at harsh terms which penalize employees and earlier investors.”

Read the full report to see their detailed analysis and data compilation, which includes the following for 2014–2016: total US quarterly deal count and funds raised, as well as annual distribution of deals by Series and sector; NYC quarterly deal count and funds raised, as well as annual distribution of deals by Series and sector; NYC annual funds raised by sector; NYC median funds raised by Series.

Portfolio happenings:

  • TechCrunch reports that Alchemist Accelerator, led by Managing Director Ravi Belani (Class 11), closed a $2.5M fund to back enterprise tech startups. Alchemist Accelerator started in 2013 and has so far graduated 138 companies through its 6-month program; 75 of those went on to attain follow-on funding rounds of $500K+ within 6 months. The program has grown with each class, and now admits 17 companies per cohort—investing an average of $36K in each. Its participants are morphing from straight enterprise-tech to include software-enabled-hardware fields such as IoT and robotics. The newest class of Alchemist had its demo day on January 19th.
  • Invitalia Ventures (Salvo Mizzi, Class 16; and Mario Scuderi, Class 21) reports that it has closed a €2.25M co-investment round in 40South Energy Italy, which “produces energy from the ocean waves thanks to a patented and scalable technology with high average capacity, low environmental and zero visual impact.” Since the “amount of energy produced is easily predictable” with ocean waves, 40South Energy overcomes several technological barriers: for one thing, it can generate electricity in almost all weather conditions without interruption, even in extreme weather. With its new investment, the firm will move to commercialization of its product this year.
  • Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that Zoom has closed a $100M Series D round with Sequoia Capital as the lead investor. Emergence Capital Partners joined the round, and was the lead investor for Zoom’s $35M Series C. Congratulations to Santi Subotovsky (Class 15), the lead investor from Emergence.

Fellows on the move:

  • Daphne Dufresne (Class 5) is now a Managing Partner at GenNx360 Partners, and a member of the firm’s Investment Committee. Based in New York City, GenNx360 invests in middle-market industrial manufacturing and business services companies. The firm’s founder, Ron Blaylock, says of Daphne’s move: “I am extremely pleased to welcome Daphne to the firm. [She] will enhance our already strong investment team and play an integral role in helping us create value for the GenNx360 portfolio.” [Press release]
  • Neena Kadaba (Class 13) is now Director, Science at Quark Venture, establishing the firm’s new California office. Quark has jointly established a new $500 million global health sciences fund that will invest globally in biotechnology and health sciences companies working in drug development, medical devices, health IT and emerging convergent technologies.
  • Peter Lee (Class 13) recently co-founded Los Angeles-based Embark Ventures. The firm has filed Form D with SEC, and will raise its first fund of $50M. At Baroda Ventures, where Peter has worked since serving his Fellowship, he has focused on the consumer internet, e-commerce, mobile, SaaS, and digital media industries.

This week’s blog selections:

  • Patrick Burtis (Class 11) has written the first of several posts on the Amadeus Capital Partners blog on the concept of “Got, Get”: a succinct phrasing of the concept that power begets power, or that it takes money to make money. When applied to startups, it begins to eat away at the myth of meritocracy, as well as the idealized startup beginnings of two guys in a garage/basement/coffee shop. Read “Part 1: Stars Attract Stars.”
  • Brad Feld (KF Board member) penned “The Ideal Financial Reporting Tempo for a VC-Backed Company,” explaining his move to quarterly board meetings. His preference for “continuous board interaction” makes more frequent meetings unnecessary. Read Brad’s suggestions for keeping everyone on the same page while respecting busy schedules. If you’d like to share your ideal reporting rhythm, Brad would like to hear about it.
  • Gil Dibner (Class 13) makes some forecasts for 2017 regarding overall VC trends. His dozen thoughtful predictions range from a revision of SaaS—”just the new word for software”—toward specialized products tooled for underserved markets, to later-stage startups focusing on exits over fundraising. Read the full post to see Gil’s forecast and weigh in with your own thoughts for 2017.

Do you write a blog, or have an essay you’d like to share? Email and we’ll include it here.

Job opportunities:

Several job opportunities have been sent in by Fellows; see below for details. Jobs are removed from this list after 4 weeks. Browse back-issues of Society News if you’re looking for an older job post. If you are a Fellow or Mentor and would like to post a job at your firm or portfolio company, please email us.

  • Charlotte Hubbert (Class 14), Partner at Gates Foundation Venture Capital (the investment arm of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), is looking to hire a Principal, primarily focused on early-stage biotechnology, to join her 10-person investment team. Working with the Foundation’s program teams, the Principal will help source investment opportunities that have the potential to significantly advance the Foundation’s goals and then lead deal teams on the negotiation, execution, and portfolio management of venture investments, including serving as the Foundation’s board representative or observer for certain investee companies. Read the full job description and apply online on the Foundation’s website.
  • Daniel Heaf (Class 15), SVP Digital Commerce & Digital Marketing at Burberry, has announced on LinkedIn that their firm is searching for a Senior Digital Marketing Manager, based in London. This manager is responsible for perfecting the firm’s long-term digital content strategy; deliver a consistent, seamless experience across touch-points; and monitor the digital landscape for new opportunities. Extensive digital marketing experience with a background in leading digital platforms strategies is required for this mid-senior level position. Read the full job description, including application information, on LinkedIn.

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