Written by Kate Clark

Mary Meeker raises $1.25B for Bond, her debut growth fund

As the Kleiner Perkins empire crumbles, Mary Meeker builds her own.

The author of the Internet Trends Report has $1.25 billion in capital commitments for her debut growth fund, Bond Capital, as first reported by Axios and confirmed to TechCrunch by a source close to the firm.

Bond Capital has declined to comment.

Meeker spun-out from the Kleiner Perkins growth investing practice in September 2018 to form Bond after an internal power struggle between her and Mamoon Hamid, who joined Kleiner in 2017 from Social Capital, left no other option. According to a recent Fortune feature on the formerly revered venture capital firm, Kleiner recruited Hamid to refuel the firm’s early-stage efforts but his purported plan to increase the size of the early-stage funds’ stakes was a step too far onto Meeker’s turf.

“Hamid, say Kleiner insiders, saw himself as helping; Meeker’s team viewed Hamid’s offers as meddling,” Fortune writes.

Meeker, in her Kleiner tenure, was responsible for several of the firm’s most-prized investments, including Airbnb, Uber, Houzz, Slack, Peloton and, more recently, fintech platform Plaid and subscription lifestyle brand FabFitFun. She holds stakes in those high-performing companies via Kleiner’s funds, not through Bond, which has yet to deploy capital, per a source.

Meeker continues to invest out of Kleiner Perkins’ Digital Growth Fund III, a $1 billion vehicle that closed in 2016. Now that Bond has the capital to invest too, Meeker will be busy backing startups with capital from both investment vehicles.

In her new effort, Meeker is joined by Kleiner’s entire former growth practice: Mood Rowghani, Noah Knauf and Juliet de Baubigny, all of whom are general partners in the debut fund.

With Bond, Meeker makes history in launching the first female-founded, female-led venture capital fund to cross the billion-dollar threshold. She is, however, one of several former Kleiner GPs to raise her own fund. Aileen Lee stepped out on her own to form Cowboy Ventures in 2012, Trae Vassallo launched Defy Partners in 2016 and last year Beth Seidenberg raised $320 million in September for Westlake Village BioPartners.

Meeker joined Kleiner Perkins in 2010 after two decades as a managing director at Morgan Stanley. As a well-established Wall Street tech analyst, she quickly rose the Silicon Valley ranks to become one of the few women to earn a GP title at Kleiner in an industry where women have traditionally been shut out from the highest roles.

Her exit from Kleiner, a firm that has been for decades worshipped by founders, damages a brand already suffering from a slew of high-profile exits and a pivot to renewable energies from which the firm never fully recovered.

Kleiner, however, continues to double down on its early-stage efforts under Ilya Fushman, a former investor at Index Ventures, and Hamid’s lead. Earlier this year, the firm closed on $600 million for seed, Series A and Series B-focused funds.

“The environment for venture has evolved — with larger checks being written for seed and A rounds and more support from partners required to build companies — demanding a high degree of specialization and extreme focus to excel,” a spokesperson for Kleiner Perkins said in a statement provided to TechCrunch following Meeker’s exit. “The changes in both areas have led to less overlap between venture and growth and creating two separate firms with different people and operations now makes sense.”

AV8 Ventures launches with $170M to invest in digital health, mobility and enterprise tech

AV8 Ventures has closed on €150 million (about $170 million) for its debut early-stage venture capital fund to invest in seed and Series A startups in the U.S. and Europe focused on the “machine-enabled future.”

Allianz, a German insurance and asset management business, is the fund’s sole backer.

Headquartered in Palo Alto and London, the new effort is led by George Ugras (pictured above, right), the former head of IBM Ventures, and Miles Kirby (pictured above, left), previously a managing director at Qualcomm Ventures in Europe. The pair have brought on two full-time partners and five additional venture partners to hit its goal of 10 investments per year.

The AV8 team brings together technical backgrounds and strong business acumen, Kirby told TechCrunch: “That’s something fairly unique about us, we can really help the entrepreneurs as opposed to just investing and sitting back. Having been through this a few times, we can really help through the journey.”

“We think of ourselves as builders versus transactors,” Ugras, who began his career as an astrophysicist, added. “Quite often in venture you’ll notice investors get perked up around transactions, but the magic happens in-between rounds.”

Though AV8 is backed by a corporate, it is indeed not a corporate venture capital fund. Ugras, in a conversation with TechCrunch, compared AV8 with Sapphire Ventures, an early-stage fund supported by SAP. Sapphire was formerly known as SAP Ventures but rebranded as Sapphire in 2014 to reinforce its status as a firm independent from the German corporation.

AV8 has a general focus on digital health, big data and artificial intelligence, mobility and enterprise tech. Having been investing out of the fund for roughly one year already, the team has deployed capital to seven companies to date. Their portfolio includes Locomation, an autonomous trucking startup spun-out of The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University; weather forecasting and climate monitoring business PlanetIQ; and Alpha Medical, a women’s healthcare platform.

In an era of venture capital when one or two $100 million-plus funds launch each week, Ugras and Kirby say it’s their lack of vanity that sets them apart.

“What I noticed in this era with hundreds of funds, especially in the early stages, is there’s still a need for people who know how to build businesses,” he said. “Anyone can structure a term sheet and write a check, but at the end of the day, we are really conduits between limited partners, who trust us with their precious capital, and entrepreneurs, who trust us with their precious dream. Creating this aura of celebrity has created an imbalance with these relationships, which has caused a lot of issues with behavior in the industry.”

“What it’s all about is helping the portfolio companies do well, they are the ones doing the heavy lifting,” Kirby concluded. “At the end of the day, it’s the entrepreneurs that are driving it.”

Postmates has launched in 1,000 new cities since December

Postmates is expanding like crazy ahead of an initial public offering expected later this year. The food delivery business has launched in 1,000 new cities since December, the company announced today.

San Francisco-based Postmates now operates its on-demand delivery platform, powered by a network of local gig economy workers, in 3,500 cities across all 50 states. Postmates does not yet operate in any international markets aside from Mexico City.

“We want to enable anyone to have anything delivered on demand and this latest expansion allows us to deliver on that promise across all 50 states in the US,” Postmates co-founder and chief executive officer Bastian Lehmann said in a statement.

The company says it now reaches 70 percent of U.S. households and delivers food from some 500,000 restaurants, helping it to compete with food-delivery powerhouses Uber Eats and DoorDash. Additionally, Postmates recently launched Postmates Party, a new feature that lets customers within the same neighborhood pool their orders.

Postmates is poised to follow Uber into the public markets. The company — which has raised more than $670 million in venture capital funding, including a $100 million pre-IPO financing in January that valued the business at $1.85 billion — filed confidentially for a U.S. IPO in February.

The company makes completes 5 million deliveries per month and was reportedly expected to record $400 million in revenue in 2018 on food sales of $1.2 billion. Uber Eats, for its part, was expected to begin reaching 70 percent of the U.S. households by the end of 2018 and reportedly has plans in the works to use drones to deliver food by 2021.

DoorDash, meanwhile, is a rocketship. The food delivery company is active in 3,300 cities and claims to be growing 325 percent year-over-year. The company recently closed a $400 million Series F financing at a $7.1 billion valuation. It’s likely to go public in the next year, too.