5 Qs WITH A DEALMAKER
In February, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian said he would step down from his daily role at the company to return to investing.
Ohanian is now full-time at Initialized Capital, the early-stage VC firm he co-founded with Garry Tan in 2012. The firm has more than $250 million in assets under management, and its investments include Coinbase, Instacart, Zenefits, Opendoor, Soylent, Cruise Automation, and Standard Cognition.
“I still use Reddit to discover burgeoning trends,” Ohanian told Term Sheet. “It’s a big part of why Initialized was the first check in Coinbase. You could see these trends popping on r/Bitcoin, for example. The early, organic communities served as really great focus groups.”
Ohanian, who recently had a daughter with wife and tennis champion Serena Williams, took 16 weeks of parental leave before making the decision to leave his operating role at Reddit.
In a conversation with Term Sheet, Ohanian discusses the elements he looks for in a founder before investing, his outlook on cryptocurrency, and the new data-driven investing platform he’s building in-house. Read the full Q&A here.
TERM SHEET: You stepped away from your duties at Reddit to focus on Initialized Capital. Why now?
OHANIAN: We are at such an interesting time right now. The first time this Internet thing got built up, I was just a kid in my parents’ house building websites, but I couldn’t have a big impact. Right now, it feels like the innovations that will get started in the next 10 years will have a huge impact on the world.
I’m proud of all the work we did to turn around Reddit in the last three years, but I think about the impact I could have at one company versus the potential I could have investing in dozens of great, multibillion-dollar companies — and that’s the way I want to scale my next decade.
What are some of the key elements you look for in a company or founder before investing?
OHANIAN: There has to be a relentlessness to the founder. It’s easy to have an idea. It’s easy to print out some business cards. Where it starts getting hard is when you actually start testing some version of your idea, getting it in front of customers, and then finding out they’re not willing to buy your product. Even though we’re working with early-stage founders, there’s a clear indication very early on of what they’ve been able to build, not what they’re able to talk about. That makes a big difference.
I’m looking for the basic things — is the founder able to meet a deadline and execute? But I’m also looking for more complex things — are they able to operate in a world of uncertainty? There’s no syllabus for entrepreneurship.
You told me you were planning to double down on investment opportunities in emerging technologies such as blockchain. What are your views on what’s happening with cryptocurrency and the blockchain at the moment?
OHANIAN: Last year, it was all about AI and machine learning, This year, it’s all about blockchain. Most of it is just hype and BS, just like how it was with AI and ML. Most of the really vital, protocol-level, basic infrastructure around software and blockchain will need to get built in the next year or two for us to really see the Web 3.0 we’re really hoping for. So those are the types of companies we’re investing in now. These are the types of things I think will build the foundation for a very different, much better Internet.
I was a kid in the 90s without much leverage when the first Internet was being built, so I see this as a hell of an opportunity. We’re still figuring it out. We still don’t have a Netscape, but it’s coming.
What’s interesting is we’re seeing more teams with business and product backgrounds moving to start or join blockchain projects. So you have your earliest adopters who are very hard core on the engineering side, and now we’re starting to see people who have experience at later-stage startups who understand the UX and business portion of it. This stuff doesn’t actually change the world unless everyone is using it. And the way everyone is using it is if there are interfaces that make sense and that there’s product that’s beautiful and effective. That’s just starting to happen now. As an investor, I get to have a front row seat to this new Internet.
If you were to give a ballpark number for what you think Bitcoin and Ethereum will be worth by the end of the year, what would it be?
OHANIAN: At the end of the year, Bitcoin will be at $20,000. And Ethereum will be at $15,000. Great, now people can call me out if I’m wrong.
At Initialized, you’re working on rolling out a new data-driven investing platform. The goal was to increase deal flow diversity and help founders gain access to the firm’s network. How is that project going?
OHANIAN: We’ve spent the better part of this year understanding our networks internally. Between me and Garry, we have a lot of networks, but often the relationships of those networks are unclear. So the key step was aggregating those networks and figuring out who are the people we vouch for. And for the second version, we’re working on a more searchable version of this to roll out to our most trusted founders in the network.
In other words, the goal is to narrow down the best people to be working with — whether it’s a company that needs to hire someone or whether it’s someone we want to invest in. The challenge is how to make sure we’re going beyond the people who are thinking of emailing us. Who are the founders we’re not looking at but should be? As VCs, we need to use software to help us catch our blind spots.
Read the full Q&A here.
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
• Commentary: Where Are the Disruptors in the Wireless Industry? (by Harold Feld)
• Tesla Hit With a $2 Billion Lawsuit for Allegedly Stealing Nikola’s Hydrogen Truck Design (by Kirsten Korosec)
• Snap Stock Plunges 15% On Disappointing Earnings That It Partly Blamed on Redesign (by Lisa Marie Segarra)
• Blockchain Media Firm Civil Launches an Ambitious Studio to Build an ‘Open Marketplace for Journalists’ (by Jeff John Roberts)
• Frontier Car Group, a Berlin-based tech startup which develop and operates used car marketplaces within emerging markets, raised $41 million in Series B funding. Investors include Balderton Capital, TPG Growth, Fraser McCombs Capital, and Autotech Ventures.
• Skykick, a Seattle-based provider of SaaS cloud automation and management products for Microsoft information technology service providers, raised $40 million in funding. Investors include Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Craig Nerenberg, and Brenner West Capital.
• Soothe, a Las Vegas-based provider of massage services, raised $31 million in Series C funding. The Riverside Company led the round.
• Humu, a Mountain View, Calif.-based behavioral-change software company, raised $30 million in Series B funding. Institutional Venture Partners led the round.
• Bizongo, an India-based platform for packaging solutions, raised $22 million in Series B funding. B-Capital and International Finance Corporation led the round, and were joined by investors including Accel & IDG Ventures.
• Soft Robotics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based manufacturer of robotic grippers and control systems, raised $20 million in funding. Investors include Scale Venture Partners, Calibrate Ventures, Honeywell Ventures, Tekfen Ventures, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., and Hyperplane Venture Capital.
• Cera, a London-based technology-enabled homecare start-up, raised $17 million in Series A funding. Investors include Guinness Asset Management, Yabeo, and Kairos.
• BenchSci, a Canada-based AI-powered search engine for biological products, raised $8 million in Series A funding. iNovia Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including GradientVentures, Golden Venture Partners, Afore Capital, Real Ventures, and Radical Ventures.
• Passage AI, a Mountain View, Calif.-based developer of AI-powered conversational interfaces, raised $7.3 million in Series A funding. Blumberg Capital led the round.
• Regulus Cyber, an Israel-based developer of cyber security and operational solutions for drones, robots, and autonomous systems, raised $6.3 million in funding. Investors include Sierra Ventures, Canaan Partners Israel, the Technion and F2 Capital.
• Raven Telemetry, a Canada-based artificial intelligence company for manufacturing, raised $6.1 million in funding. Investors include Tobi Lütke, Harley Finkelstein, Rob Lander, and other angel investors.
• Trusted Key Solutions Inc., a blockchain-based secure digital identity company, raised $3 million in seed funding. Founders Co-Op led the round, and was joined by investors including Pithia, Inc.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Rapid Micro Biosystems, a Lowell, Mass.-based provider of automated, growth-based, rapid microbial detection technology for the healthcare product manufacturing sector, raised $60 million in funding. Investors include Bain Capital Life Sciences, Xeraya Capital, Asahi Kasei Medical, Longitude Capital, Quaker Partners, TVM Capital, and Richard K. Mellon and Sons.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Pinewell Capital acquired Avon Engineered Fabrications Inc, a Picayune, Miss.-based maker of military-grade performance inflatable products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• ProAmpac, which is owned by PPC Partners, acquired Gateway Packaging Company, a Tenn.-based flexible packaging and technical products company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Highline Aftermarket, a portfolio company of The Sterling Group, acquired South/Win, a Greensboro, N.C.-based maker of automotive fluids. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• MW Industries Inc, a portfolio company of American Securities, acquired LaVezzi Precision Inc, a Glendale Heights, Ill.-based maker of medical implants, device components and surgical instrumentation. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Albireo Energy, which is backed by Huron Capital, acquired Energy Management Control Corp, a Long Island City, N.Y.-based provider of integrated building solutions in the New York City area. No financial terms were disclosed.
• Vorteq Coil Finishers LLC, a portfolio company of Peninsula Pacific, acquired Wheeling Services & Supply Inc, a Woodstock, Ill.-based producer of pre-painted aluminum products serving the residential building and construction market. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• TA Associates invested in Datix, a U.K.-based healthcare patient safety software provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Ontario Systems acquired Justice Systems, Inc., a court case management software provider and electronic payments solutions for state and municipal court systems. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• FlockU, a King of Prussia, Penn.-based digital media company, was acquired by Becker Associates LLC. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Nokia will sell its health division to Eric Carreel, the co-founder and former chairman of Withings. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• QSR Brands, a Malaysian fast-food operator, is weighing an IPO of 2 billion ringgit ($510 million). Johor Corp backs the firm. Read more.
• Huya Broadcasting, a Guangzhou-based eSports live streaming platform spinning out of YY, says it plans to raise $165 million in an IPO on 15 million ADSs priced between $10 to $12. The firm posted revenue of $335.8 million and loss of $12.4 million in 2017. YY (55.5% pre-IPO) and Tencent (39.8%) back the firm. Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and UBS Investment Bank are underwriters in the deal. It plans to list on the NYSE as “HUYA.” Read more.
• Carbon Black, a Waltham, Mass.-based cloud-based security software maker, said it plans to raise $144 million in an IPO on 8 million shares priced between $17 to $18. The firm posted revenue of $162 million and loss of $55.2 million in 2017. Atlas Venture (17% pre-IPO), Highland Capital Partners (14.9%), Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (8.8%), Point 406 Ventures (7.7%), and Sequoia Capital (9.9%) back the firm. Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan are underwriters in the deal. The firm plans to list on the Nasdaq as “CBLK.” Read more.
• Alzheon, a Framingham, Mass.-based biopharmaceutical firm developing Alzheimer’s disease, withdrew plans for a $70 million IPO. The firm posted loss of $5.5 million in 2017. Ally Bridge Group (17.5%) and Aptus Holdings (5.2%) back the firm. Citigroup and Piper Jaffray were joint bookrunners in the deal. The firm planned to list on the Nasdaq as “”ALZH.” Read more.
• BeneVir Biopharm, Inc, a Gaithersburg, Md.-based biotechnology company developing oncolytic immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, agreed to be acquired by Janssen Biotech, Inc, for $1.04 billion. The seller was Pansend Life Sciences of HC2 Holdings.
• Marketo acquired Bizible, a Seattle-based provider of marketing performance management software. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Bizible had raised approximately $37.7 million in venture funding from investors including Scale Venture Partners, Madrona Venture Partners, MHS Capital and Investment Group of Santa Barbara.
• High Road Capital Partners sold All Integrated Solutions, a Wisconsin-based distributor of industrial OEM fasteners, Class C components and MRO products, to MSC Industrial Supply Co, for about $86 million.
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) will acquire Accompany, a Los Altos, Calif.-based provider of a relationship intelligence platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• LS Power Equity Advisors LLC, a New York-based power and energy infrastructure manager, raised $2.25 billion for its fourth fund, LS Power Equity Partners IV.
• GoldPoint Partners LLC, a New York-based private equity firm, raised $850 million for its sixth co-investment fund.
• Goodwater Capital, a San Mateo, Calif.-based venture capital firm, has set a $350 million target for its third fund, according to an SEC filing.
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Polina Marinova produces Term Sheet, and Lucinda Shen compiles the IPO news. Send deal announcements to Polina here and IPO news to Lucinda here.
WPA6021602IMG2018年5月2日波琳娜马里诺娃5个QS与交易撮合者 二月，ReDDIT联合创始人Alexis Ohanian表示，他将辞去公司日常工作，重返投资领域。OHANIAN现在是初创公司的全职，是他2012年初与Garry Tan共同创办的早期风险投资公司。该公司在管理下拥有超过2亿5000万美元的资产，其投资包括Cin Basic、SimaCART、ZeNeSIT、OpenWORE、SOLYNT、巡航自动化和标准认知。“我仍然使用ReDIT来发现迅速发展的趋势，”Ohanian告诉学期表。“这是为什么Initialized是Coinbase第一张支票。例如，你可以看到这些趋势在R/Bitcoin上流行。早期的有机社区是真正意义上的焦点群体。”Ohanian，他最近有一个妻子和网球冠军小威廉姆斯的女儿，在决定离开ReDIT的操作角色之前，休了16个星期的育儿假。在与学期表的对话中，奥哈尼亚讨论了他在投资前寻找的一个创始人的元素，他的隐秘观点，以及他在内部建立的新数据驱动的投资平台。在这里阅读完整的问答。学期表：你离开了ReDIT的职责，专注于初始资本。为什么现在？奥哈尼亚：我们现在正处于一个有趣的时刻。这是第一次互联网上的事情，我只是一个孩子在我父母的房子建设网站，但我不能有很大的影响。现在，感觉在未来10年开始的创新将会对世界产生巨大的影响。在过去三年里，我为扭转ReDIT所做的一切而感到自豪，但我认为，我对一家公司的影响与我可能在数十家规模巨大、价值数十亿美元的公司中投资的潜力有关，这也是我下一个十年的目标。在投资之前，你在公司或创始人中寻找哪些关键因素？奥哈尼亚：必须有一个无情的创始人。有一个想法很容易。打印一些名片很容易。当它开始变得困难的时候，当你开始测试你的想法的某个版本，在客户面前得到它，然后发现他们不愿意购买你的产品。尽管我们与早期的创业者合作，但很早就有明确的迹象表明他们能够建立什么，而不是他们能谈论什么。这有很大的不同。我在寻找基本的东西——创办人能在最后期限前完成吗？但我也在寻找更复杂的东西——他们能在一个充满不确定性的世界里工作吗？没有创业精神的教学大纲。你告诉我，你计划在新兴技术比如BigStand上翻倍投资机会。你对目前的密码和封锁链发生了什么看法？OHANIA:去年，它都是关于人工智能和机器学习的，今年，都是关于BuffStand的。大部分都是炒作和BS，就像AI和ML是怎样的一样。在软件和BuffLink周围，最重要的、协议级的、基本的基础设施需要在未来一两年内建立起来，让我们真正看到我们真正希望的Web 3。这就是我们现在投资的公司类型。这些类型的东西，我认为将建立一个非常不同的，更好的互联网的基础。我是一个90年代的孩子，没有太多的杠杆，当第一个互联网正在建设，所以我认为这是一个地狱般的机会。我们还在想办法。我们还没有Netscape，但它来了。有趣的是，我们看到了更多的商业和产品背景的团队正在开始或加入BooStand项目。所以你有最早的使用者，他们在工程方面是非常核心的，现在我们开始看到有经验的人在后来的初创公司了解UX和业务部分。除非每个人都在使用这个东西，否则它不会真正改变世界。每个人使用它的方式是，如果有界面是有意义的，并且产品是美丽和有效的。现在才刚刚开始。作为一个投资者，我有一个前排座位，以这个新的互联网。如果你给一个大概的数字，你认为Bitcoin和Ethereum在年底会有什么价值，那会是什么？奥哈尼亚：在今年年底，比特币将达到20000美元。Ethereum将达到15000美元。太好了，如果IWPA60607QTEM错了，现在人们可以打电话给我。在Initialized，你正在努力推出一个新的数据驱动的投资平台。其目的是增加交易流量的多样性，帮助创始人获得公司网络的访问权。那个项目进展如何？奥哈尼亚：我们在今年的大部分时间内都在理解我们的网络。在我和Garry之间，我们有很多网络，但通常这些网络的关系还不清楚。所以关键的一步是整合这些网络，找出我们所承诺的人。对于第二个版本，我们正在开发一个更可搜索的版本，以向网络中最值得信赖的创建者推出。换句话说，我们的目标是缩小与之合作的最好的人——无论是一个需要雇佣某人的公司，还是一个我们想投资的人。我们面临的挑战是如何确保我们超越那些想给我们发电子邮件的人。谁是我们不看但应该是的奠基人？作为VCs，我们需要使用软件来帮助我们抓住盲点。在这里阅读完整的问答。广告财富的最新…评论：混乱在哪里？无线产业中的RS？（Harold Feld）和公牛；特斯拉因涉嫌盗窃尼古拉PAP60300 7QTES氢卡车设计（由Kirsten Korosec）和20亿美元的诉讼击中了令人失望的收入15%，这部分归咎于重新设计（由李）Sa Marie Segarra）和Bulk；B股链媒体公司民事启动一个雄心勃勃的工作室，建立一个WPAP60300 8QTEAN市场为新闻工作者SWAPP60300 7QTE（由Jeff John Roberts）风险交易 总部位于柏林的科技创业公司先锋汽车集团在新兴市场开发和经营二手车市场，在B系列融资中筹集了4100万美元。投资者包括Baldton Capital、TPG增长、Fraser McCombs资本和AutoTo创业风险投资公司。西雅图SaaS云自动化和管理产品提供商Sky踢
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