So who are the investors loving young startups in 2013?
Tied for 7th was Innovation Works, a firm that invests only in southwestern Pennsylvania startups. Though the firm has been around since 1999 and has put $52.3 million in 168 firms, in September 2013, it raised $12 million toward a new $25 million fund. It also helped to start a new accelerator in Pittsburgh, called AlphaLab Gear, attracting even more startups to the region. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, at least 65 percent of all venture deals in Pittsburgh now include Innovation Works.
Red Swan Ventures, a New York fund started by Bonobos co-founder and CEO Andy Dunn in 2011, tied for 15th. Dunn started the men’s fashion line in 2007 and received investments by Nordstrom in 2012 and 2013. Somewhere along the line, he partnered up with colleagues at the startup to invest in young companies. Today, they hold investments in Coinbase, Hailo, Birchbox, Chloe+Isabel, Warby Parker and a couple dozen other young companies, and late last year, peHub reported they were raising a third fund.
Similar to Pennsylvania is an effort to fund startups in Virginia, and it’s happening through an organization called the Center for Innovative Technology. The CIT GAP Funds grabbed a 15th rank on the list, in part for its influx of investments in security-oriented startups. In 2013, the center started a new cybersecurity accelerator program called MACH37, in partnership with the Governor. But the GAP Fund is nothing new for the state. Started in 2005, it has invested more than $9 million in at least 80 tech and life science companies, helping them attract $125 million in private funds.
Three-year-old Eniac Ventures also grabbed a 15th spot on the list as it announced in 2013 a much larger second fund of $12.9 million (its first was $1.6M) to invest exclusively in mobile-first startups. Founded by entrepreneurs-turned-investors Hadley Harris, a former executive at two now-acquired startups Vlingo and Thumb, and Nihal Mehta, founder of the ad-tech startup Local Response and venture capitalists Vic Singh and Tim Young, the San Francisco firm has invested in 42 companies and had six exits. The four men were friends at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and named their firm after one of the world’s first computers developed at their alma mater.
Tied with three other companies at number 20 is another entrepreneur-founded venture capital firm in San Francisco, called Freestyle Capital. It’s the third venture founded byJosh Falser and Dave Samuel, who previously started Spinner, which sold to AOL TimeWarner for $320 million, and Grouper, which sold to Sony for $65 million. They started the fund in 2009, raising $26 million for a first fund, and in 2013, they raised a second fund of $40 million. Of nearly 40 investments, 11 portfolio companies have been acquired. Also interesting about the pair is that they remain active in their own startups. Falser recently co-founded FYI Living, a ‘Mythbusters’ of health information, and Samuel runs the high-tech toilet seat company Brondell with partner Mark Cuban.
At last, a female-led firm to make the list. Also coming in at number 20 is Forerunner Ventures, a San Francisco fund focused on e-commerce startups. Since its 2010 founding by former retail analyst and Montgomery Securities investor Kirsten Green, Forerunner has made investments in Bonobos, Birchbox, Warby Parker and Hotel Tonight. In 2013, she added Zozi, Soma and others to that list, all investments from a $40 million fund Green raised in 2012. Intentionally, or not, all of Forerunner’s executives are female.
Here’s a 20th ranking fund with a banner 2013. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz’sMaveron seed fund witnessed three acquisitions and a high-profile initial public offering in the e-commerce site Zulily. The Seattle and San Francisco based fund, which Schultz started with managing partner Dan Levitan in 1998 to make investments in early Internet companies like Drugstore.com and eBay, made a bunch of investments in 2013 to wrap up a $120 million fund it raised in 2008 and 2009. With the kind of success Maveron had in 2013, it’s likely we’ll see some 2014 fundraising.
No stranger to top investor lists is Vinod Khosla, whose Khosla Ventures has raised $2.5 billion since 2004 to invest in startups. The Sun Microsystems co-founder is most interested in clean tech and Internet technology companies, making recent investments in LittleBits Electronics, the startup insurance company Oscar, and dating site HowAboutWe, earning him a 20th ranking on the seed investment list. Khosla may ascend the list in 2014 with its recent commitment to funding Y Combinator’s VC program.