Today, we couldn’t be more thrilled to officially launch Founders Circle. We believe our firm represents a new class of capital, designed to recharge the batteries of the people who are building breakaway growth companies -- founders, executives, employees, early financial backers -- in a manner that aligns everyone’s interests for long-term company building. Knowing that we’re making a material difference in the personal lives of startup teams is a true privilege for us.
We’re often called a kitchen table firm by the founders we work with. That’s because it’s where we find ourselves talking with them. Each conversation is characterized by a different set of circumstances but they all add up to the same thing: how the pressure valve of life has been building while pursuing their dreams to build great companies and change the world.
We’ve walked a mile in those shoes as founders of, executives in, or service providers to, the same kind of breakaway growth companies in which we invest. We’ve faced the challenges of scaling a business while holding a team together. There's plenty of scar tissue to prove it.
Our approach strives to be constructive to company building. By directly investing in a company’s people in a manner that is thoughtful to the interests of all the stakeholders, we help everyone stay focused and energized on building a company that will endure. An investment from Founders Circle--typically just enough for team members to pay off graduate school debt, put a down payment on a house, send the kids to school, or pay for a loved one’s medical expenses--gives companies the flexibility to pass on early acquisition offers and motivates essential team members to stay at the company they have put their heart and soul into.
We work only at the invitation of founders, CEOs and Board Directors of breakaway growth companies. We’re often asked to help solve an alignment issue in the company. Managed well, the process can be like the water station at mile 21 in a marathon: directing, focusing and motivating the team to go faster and further. While we’ve been in our own version of “stealth,” we’ve had the privilege to invest in the people who are the builders of eight breakaway growth companies, including Ebates (acquired by Rakuten) Dollar Shave Club, Elemental Security, Good Technology, Lumos Labs, and Ticketfly.
These companies view the programs we’ve built for them as far more than financial milestones. For instance, Kabam very deliberately wanted to build a retention and recruiting tool that could benefit everyone in the company. Last month, Alibaba invested $120M for 10% of the company.
We have a strategic partnership with Silicon Valley Bank, which lets us offer a variety of flexible equity and debt programs for the people we serve, like founder stock purchase programs, employee stock purchase programs, investor stock purchase programs, and company financing programs.
Finally, there’s The Circle. It’s a community, chaired by our close friend, John Battelle, where founders of breakaway growth companies can meet and confidentially discuss the gritty challenges that come with scaling a company experiencing exponential growth.
By doing a lot of things new, and doing them differently, we hope our investments can make a difference for the people who are building today's breakaway growth companies. We truly appreciate all the support we have received in this new venture and are driven to serve the community well.