April 21, 2016

From 0 to $200M – Celebrating our First Decade in Venture and Starting the Next with a New Fund

Aydin Senkut

ZERO – Back in 2006, when I started Felicis, that number represented my deal-flow, the size of my network and the chance the venture establishment gave me of succeeding. It became instantly clear that to win, changing the rules was essential. So I applied whole- heartedly one of the core principles I learned from my experience at Google: obsession with questioning the status quo. I took a different path by pursuing companies poised for remarkable future growth (instead of the obvious hot sectors), being extremely flexible with ownership, not taking a board seat, and accepting uncomfortable valuations. The ability to write smaller checks more often allowed for learning much faster than at a typical venture capital firm. That initial approach swiftly netted a dozen exits by 2010, enough to help raise our first institutional fund.

To emphasize thinking differently and to consider a wide range of perspectives, I assembled a talented, self-made team hailing from very diverse, humble backgrounds, cultures and experiences – strikingly similar to our most iconic founders.

We diversified rapidly beyond largely seed-stage consumer-internet start-ups into a variety of new sectors and geographies that were not popular with most investors. Today, our investments are spread evenly across seed-, early-, and mid-stage companies that push the technological edge in an incredible range of areas from programming bacteria, to powering global payments; from platforms that power global logistics to next generation satellite systems. Our portfolio now encompasses companies with operations in 13 countries and 14 states. (We produced this brief video to capture the amazing spirit and diversity of our founders.)

We are very proud of the fact that, to date, our unique, unconventional approach has produced more than 60 notable exits and 3 IPOs out of 180 or so investments. We’ve had exits every year that we have been in operation except our first, even during the 2008-2009 downturn. Our biggest winners now include 11 companies valued at over $1B, including 5 already exited.

Collectively, our companies have created nearly 22,000 jobs, generated well in excess of $4.3 billion in annualized revenues as of last year, and raised over $4.5 billion of capital. For every $1 we have invested, $35 followed on average from other investors. Our current realized return across all our exits (including full and partial ones) is over 8x. (True to our tradition of transparency, these interesting stats and others are depicted in this new infographic here.)

On the back of this exciting momentum, we have just raised a new $200 million fund, our fifth, to mark our tenth anniversary. We will leverage that extra scale to make much bolder bets, and support our founders in more meaningful ways with one of the most diverse teams in venture.

As we embrace our next decade, we will always be mindful that the only success we strive for is the one that our founders envision for themselves. To make a stronger point of that effort, we were the first venture firm to commit to always vote our shares with our founders. Our mission is to help them realize their dreams and create their own destinies, anywhere in the world.

To work with entrepreneurs globally who will turn convention upside down, reinvent the things everyone takes for granted and give the world something it never knew it needed, but suddenly can’t live without, that is our dream.

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