The venture firm SOSV has already raised its biggest fund to date, and it isn’t quite closedApril 25, 2019
SOSV, a multi-stage venture firm that was founded as the personal investing vehicle of entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan after his company went public in 1994, then re-launched as a traditional venture firm with outside backers in 2015, has raised $218 million for its third fund.
The vehicle has a $250 million target that SOSV expects to meet by year’s end, but already, it’s substantially larger than the firm’s previous fund, which closed with $150 million.
SOSV is best-known for the numerous accelerators it has created and oversees, including hardware-focused HAX, and IndieBio for life sciences startups. Yesterday, we were in touch with SOSV partner Daniel Eichner — who’s in charge of raising capital for the outfit, as well as introducing its portfolio companies to potential future investors — to learn more about what else is new at its eight offices around the world, including in Cork, Ireland; Princeton, N.J.; New York; San Francisco; London; Shenzhen; Shanghai; and Taipei.
Among the many things we learned: the firm now has eight senior partners who ultimately decide where capital gets invested, and a whopping 110 people across the U.S., Europe and China, including support staff that help its startups go from lab to market.
The firm has earned some bragging rights, including as the lead investor in the electric bike company Jump Bikes, acquired by Uber last year for an undisclosed amount. It also has some highly valued companies in its portfolio currently, including the 3D printing “unicorn” FormLabs; the peer-to-peer ridesharing company GetAround, which just acquired a French company to extend its reach into Europe; and Makeblock, a Shenzhen, China-based company that sells robot kits for kids and most recently raised $44 million in Series C funding.
The firm hasn’t shied away from some more ambitious bets, either, including one on BitMEX, a crypto exchange based in Hong Kong that’s focused on cryptoderivatives and in which SOSV is the only institutional investor.
Most of the founders it backs — 80 percent, says Eichner — are first-timers, though “many have years and sometimes decades of work experience,” he adds.
As for the size of the checks SOSV writes, its accelerator deals are standardized for each program, but the smallest check is for $100,000 for software startups or $250,000 for hardware and life sciences startups. Meanwhile, the most it will invest is up to $2 million, across multiple rounds, with its biggest bet to date being SyntheX, a designer therapeutics company in which SOSV owns a 20 percent stake.
Eichner explains that SOSV aims for between 8 percent and 16 percent ownership at the accelerator phase, then looks to either establish or maintain a 15 percent stake in the top 20 percent to 30 percent of its companies.
Despite its many far-flung offices, we asked if SOSV tends to support more founders in the U.S. than elsewhere, or vice versa. Eichner says that about half of SOSV’s portfolio companies are in North America, with another quarter in Asia, and the rest split between Europe and the rest of the world.
Pictured above: Firm founder Sean O’Sullivan.