Good news for fans of large, sequential numbers.
Obvious Ventures, the almost-year-old venture capital firm started by Twitter co-founder and Medium CEO Ev Williams, just filed the paperwork with the SEC to close its first-ever fund at the amount of $US123,456,789.
“The number was absolutely intentional! We’ve got some maths and computer science geeks (myself included) on the team and thought we’d have a little fun with our Form D filing,” Obvious Ventures co-founder James Joaquin told us.
Obvious had been targeting a $US100 million round, but was lucky enough to be oversubscribed to over $US120 million — so they decided to set $US123,456,789 as their fundraising cutoff point.
The number is a joke, but the fund is no laughing matter: Obvious Ventures is out to use the money to change the world, Joaquin said.
Humanity is facing “tectonic plate-shift levels of challenge,” Joaquin says, and Obvious Ventures wants to invest in companies that are tackling those challenges head-on. Obvious Ventures’ three main areas of investment are “Sustainable Systems,” “Healthy Living,” and “People Power,” Joqauin says.
Joaquin himself, perhaps best known for taking money-transfer site Xoom to IPO as its CEO, sits on the board of sustainable cleaning product brand Seventh Generation and health information startup CareZone, among others.
Over the last year, while still raising for this first fund, Obvious has invested in startups like petition site Change.org, meat substitute company Beyond Meat, and sustainable building design software developer Flux Factory. It’s not exactly your usual Silicon Valley venture capital portfolio.
“A lot of traditional VC has run away from the clean-tech space,” Joaquin says. “We are charging in.”
Where many venture capital firms are just out there looking for the next unicorn startup, Obvious Ventures looks to invest in “world-positive” companies, Joaquin says.
Which isn’t to say that Obvious isn’t out to turn a profit — it’s more that the firm doesn’t see profitability and positive change as opposites. Which is why Obvious Ventures doesn’t invest in non-profits or companies that view revenue as an acceptable loss in the name of social change.
“We’re not social impact investors,” Joaquin says. “All you need to measure is profit and loss.”