Pokémon Go creator joins Punchdrunk theatre for interactive venture | Games – Blog – 10 minute

Immersive theatre company Punchdrunk, best known for its Macbeth production Sleep No More, and augmented-reality game developer Niantic, creator of augmented-reality smartphone games Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, are teaming up to create “interactive experiences”, the companies announced today.
They are not working on extensions to existing games and productions – so don’t expect an interactive stage production of Pokémon Go, or a new video game adaptation of The Drowned Man. Instead the companies will be working on new projects, with aims to “reinvent storytelling for a 21st-century audience and further expand the horizon of interactive entertainment”.
“Those that have seen Sleep No More often liken the experience to how it might feel to walk into a video game,” says Punchdrunk’s founder and artistic director Felix Barrett, who has previously opined that “playable shows” are the future of theatre.
“Pokemon Go is really unique in that it’s the first mainstream game that takes place outside your home and in your neighbourhood. It puts a magical veneer across the streets we live in, and that’s amazing. It’s what we are striving for.”

Pokémon Go fans en masse in Chicago. Photograph: Lucy Hewett/The Guardian
Neither company has yet explained what the first product of this partnership will actually be – whether an in-home game experience, a theatre production enhanced by Niantic’s gaming and augmented-reality technology, or a one-off outdoor event along the lines of Niantic’s Pokémon Go Fests. Niantic’s CEO John Hanke describes the new projects as “entirely new experiences that merge the physical and digital worlds in a way that hasn’t before been attempted”.
Punchdrunk launched Sleep No More in Shanghai in 2017, but has been relatively quiet on new projects since its 2013-14 production of The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable in London. The company has also collaborated with HBO and Sky on The Third Day, an immersive TV show that will air this autumn.
Niantic, whose games specialise in overlaying video game worlds over the real world and getting players out to explore their neighbourhoods, launched the phenomenally popular Pokémon Go in 2016, and a Harry Potter cinematic tie-in called Wizards Unite last year.

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The venture capitalist with a Silicon Valley solution for minority-owned businesses | Business – Blog – 10 minute

On first blush a Silicon Valley venture capitalist might not strike you as the first person to turn to when trying to address the racial wealth divide but these days we should take good ideas where we find them.
Ash Shrivastav works for Buckhill Capital, a Silicon Valley-based private equity and venture capital firm that specializes in investing in early stage and growth companies and real estate such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, a customer-owned banking platform called Good Money as well as apartment communities from New York to Washington State.
Now the Nepal native wants to help minority-owned business owners in Kansas City, Tulsa and Detroit make money too. Not through grants or government loan programs. But through the same model that’s used by venture capital firms for the mostly white, male-run companies they invest in that are usually located in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.
His solution? A venture capital fund he calls the Main Street Capital Fund which is run like any other venture capital fund, but with one little twist: the money comes from the US government. “It’s a simple solution for government to step in and help small businesses,” he says.
Instead of taking money from large, state-run retirement and pension funds like CalPERS or CalSTRS, Shrivastav envisions setting up a similar fund using taxpayer money from Washington. The federal government, like any other investor, would be a limited partner of the fund and entitled to investment returns. The general partner of the fund – the one that makes the decisions and manages the money – would be a non-governmental organization made up of professional fund managers.
That organization, however, would need to follow strict rules.
For example, it would only be allowed to invest in certain types of companies – ie minority owned – and only in certain regions that oftentimes get ignored by the mainstream firms. Educational background and the old school network wouldn’t play the role that it usually does. This way, startups and even growing small businesses owned by Black, Latino and other minority entrepreneurs as well as women-owned firms would get a shot at some much-needed capital to drive their businesses forward, employ people, help their communities and, most importantly, create wealth.
“We have to focus on what income inequality is doing to this country,” Shrivastav says. “The fix is either you become an employee or you start an enterprise. The sad part is that venture capital only goes to about 2% of companies and 98% of them are typical white and male and with a similar educational and professional background. Women and minorities are left out.”
Why should the government invest taxpayer money in such a scheme? Simple. The people running the fund do this for a living. Let’s not kid ourselves. These are capitalists. They’ll still want to see at least two to four times their investment in order to make a profit. But that’s what you want them to do, because whatever is made gets plowed back into the fund and then re-invested in other minority-owned startups.
“If we don’t operate it like a pure capital, market-oriented company then it will not be effective,” he says.
Shrivastav reports that he has made progress with his project. He’s written a public letter to Donald Trump and has been encouraged by politicians from both sides of the political aisle as well as, he says, “very influential people” in the venture capital community. But he still has a ways to go.
So why is it so difficult? Over the past few decades, non-profits, government agencies and even charities have given grants, low-interest loans and other aid to try to help minority owned businesses with modest success. But let’s face it: the real money has been made by companies run by mostly non-minorities that received serious financing with serious expectations from serious investors in Silicon Valley. There’s no reason why this same model can’t be applied to help minority business owners across the country.
And besides, who would you trust with your tax dollars: some bureaucrat in DC or a profit-hungry capitalist in San Jose? My money’s with the capitalists.

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Venture Catalysts backed peAR, a pioneer in contactless dine-in ordering has made its services free to restaurants to fight COVID-19- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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In view of the increasing cases of coronavirus in India, peAR Technologies, a Venture Catalysts portfolio company, is offering restaurants free access to its contactless dine-in ordering feature. The Mumbai-based deep-tech startup has also waived off the listing charges for new restaurants. As social distancing becomes the new norm, the initiative by PeAR will enable customers to place orders from their favourite restaurants without making any physical contact.
Through these features, customers can visit any of the company’s partnered restaurants, scan the QR code on the table, view the menu in 3D Augmented Reality, order multiple courses from their phone and pay the bill online at once, thereby eliminating key touchpoints like menu cards and bill books and reducing interaction with server staff as well. Equipped with a unique 3D menu feature, peAR will allow them to view 3D images of the dish before placing the order thus helping customers make a more informed decision. Customers can also avail up to 50% discount on their orders made via peAR’s app without having to subscribe to a membership like Zomato Gold or DineOut Gourmet Passport. Thus enabling the golden trio of contactless menu, contactless ordering and contactless payment, they are making dining out extremely safe.
Speaking on the development, Dharmin Vora, co-founder of peAR Technologies, commented, “We have always believed that it’s much more convenient and hygienic for customers to view the menu and order from their phones inside restaurants. However, it has now become a necessity for restaurants to remove high-touch, non-sanitized objects like menu cards and bill books amidst the COVID-19 crisis. We were already seeing a change in consumer habit wherein people preferred viewing images and 3D models of dishes while ordering at restaurants, and this pandemic will only accelerate this shift. We are currently in talks with the NRAI to mandate contactless ordering inside restaurants post lockdown to ensure the safety of customers and make them feel comfortable dining out once again.”
Adding to this, Dr Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Founder, Venture Catalysts, said, “We are certain that the pandemic will bring a permanent shift in the way people have been ordering food inside restaurants. The peAR team has the ability to help restaurants cope with this change, while making it more convenient and safe for customers to dine out after the lockdown is lifted. As India continues its fight against COVID-19, peAR’s decision to offer its services for free is commendable. We are proud to be a part of their endeavours and we look forward to supporting their journey ahead.”
As part of its commitment to customer safety, peAR is also recommending its partner restaurants to use one-time cutlery and educating them about hygiene practices to be followed once the lockdown restrictions are lifted. Additionally, it has started providing hygiene ratings for each restaurant so customers can stay informed. Apart from that, the startup plans to launch a CSR campaign post lockdown to feed one underprivileged family for every 100 orders processed via its app.

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Venture Catalysts forays into Insurtech: Invests in insurance startup Insurance Samadhan- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Venture Catalysts is an integrated incubator and accelerator platform, recently invested in Insurance Samadhan – a tech-enabled insurance grievance redressal platform – in the seed-funding round. Catering to customers from diverse backgrounds, Insurance Samadhan allows anyone who has experienced miss-selling, fraud or claim rejection in life, health and general insurance to file a complaint. It then filters the complaints on certain parameters executed by AI/ML and connects with respective insurance companies, regulators, Ombudsman, Courts as required.
Since its inception in 2018, Insurance Samadhan has successfully resolved more than 13,000 complaints. Founded by industry stalwarts Deepak Bhuvneshwari Uniyal (Co-founder & CEO), Shilpa Arora (Co-founder & COO), Shailesh Kumar (Co-founder & Insurance Head), and Sanjay Aggarwal (Co-founder & Legal Head), the startup brings to the table total experience of 45 years in Insurance and 25 years in the legal space. It currently operates across three verticals – 1) Retail, 2) Hospital/Micro Finance/Corporate and 3) Case through insurance advisors and is registered with start-up INDIA.
Speaking on the investment, Dr Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Co-Founder & President, Venture Catalysts, said, “Estimated at $112 billion, the Insurtech market in India shows great potential for startups and investors alike. While it is still at a nascent stage as compared to its Western counterparts, the scope for growth is huge. Insurance Samadhan is leveraging modern technologies and the expertise of its board members to organize this fragmented market. The funding will help the company build its tech stack and realize its business targets.
“We are very excited to have joined hands with Venture Catalysts. This fundraise would help us to develop our technological frame. Post the tech is developed, Insurance Samadhan would be ready to scale up,” added by Deepak Bhuvneshwari Uniyal, the spokesperson of Insurance Samadhan.

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Anaxee Digital Runners Raises Funding From Orios Venture Partners & LetsVenture- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Indore based Anaxee Digital Runners, India’s largest last-mile outreach & data collection network, has recently raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Orios Venture Partners, one of the leading seed-stage venture capital funds. Anaxee’s other investors include LetsVenture, Keiretsu Forum, GAIN, and Swan Angel Network.
Anaxee builds last-mile outreach & data collection network of Digital Runners (shared feet-on-street, tech-enabled) to help internet/mobile businesses scale to remote parts of India. With India, being the primary market, Anaxee is more focused towards operating in Tier-2, 3 and 4 towns and villages of India. The infusion of new funds will be utilized by the company in the next 12 months for technology development, generating sales and upskilling and training their last-mile partners, the Digital Runners.
Founded in 2016 by Govind Agrawal and Arti Agrawal, Digital Runners is the second start-up founded by the duo, after their previous stint in a Biometrics and Aadhaar services-based venture where they also got a US Patent for Vein Recognition Technology in their name. Currently, Anaxee has presence in around 26 States, 540 Districts, 11000 Pincodes and a network of 10000+ Runners. Till now, they have served 1000+ Clients and collected millions of data points. Additionally, the platform is also available to distribute products and services in Tier-2 & 3 towns and act as a sales lead generation platform for their clients.
Commenting on the fund raise, Govind Agrawal, Co-founder of Anaxee Digital Runners, stated, “Anaxee is India’s Reach Engine! Be it Changlang in Arunachal Pradesh to Navsari in Gujarat, Or Kargil in Kashmir to Hutbay in Little Andaman. We make Reach to all these places as easy as ordering a pizza, just on click of a button. We are a first principles company and solving access related problems for real Bharat using technology and last-mile partner network. We empower these local micro-entrepreneurs with opportunities in their own geography and positively impact their lives.
Anup Jain, Managing Partner, Orios Venture Partners said, ” At Orios, we see the next wave of unicorns and businesses coming from expansion of reach into the Next 300mn consumers beyond the top cities. These new customers, armed with a smartphone and an internet connection, are attracting all kinds of businesses who want to scale in Tier-2 & 3 cities. Anaxee vast network of Digital Runners becomes an enabler for businesses to start operations across India in very structured and fool proof manner. What Ola did with cabs, Anaxee can do the same for data and make data from remotest parts of India available on-demand.
Further, the founders previous background in identity space and experience in the Aadhaar ecosystem attracted us to back this team.”, Anup added
Paras Malhotra of LetsVenture says, “It has been heartening to see the conviction of angel investors from our platform on a ‘Bharat’ play being validated by Orios Venture Partners. We believe as Anaxee adds more services to its ‘Digital Runners’, the platform will truly scale and service a much needed gap in the market of actual ‘reach’ beyond just the big ‘network’ numbers.”
Abhishek Sanghvi, Swan Angel Network, who is also one of the first investors in Anaxee “While most startups we meet are focused only on tech-driven innovation, Anaxee has established their leadership in setting up very tight ops to go along with their tech & AI stack, to provide a unique end-to-end solution for clients who require highly-distributed presence across India. Govind and Arti’s commitment to prevail in such an extremely challenging space will pave the way for a bright future ahead”.
Post Jio-era, Indian corporations & all internet/mobile startups are looking beyond the top-40 cities of India for business opportunities and searching for a distributed channel to penetrate into remotest parts of the country. Anaxee tech platform and vast network of Digital Runners help these companies to scale by providing last-mile reach and assistance in customer acquisition, onboarding, lead generation, data collection, KYC and survey. They serve customers across various sectors like Udaan, DeHaat, Welspun, Sony Networks, Faircent, etc.

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CtrlShift announces Malaysia head to depart and start his own venture- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Ad tech outfit CtrlShift has announced that the country head of its Malaysia operations Serm Teck Choon will depart to form a new venture from April 2020.
Serm led CtrlShift operations, product initiatives, and strategic partnerships, both in Malaysia and regionally for more than four years. He also served as the president of the Malaysian Digital Association (MDA).
He also helped launched AMP, a private marketplace for publishers, and helped inform the road map for CtrlShift’s The Hub, which recently integrated over-the-top (OTT) media to become a multi-channel, agnostic media management and optimisation platform.
“Serm’s dedication to CtrlShift and the industry over the past four years has been invaluable. We wish him well and look forward to hearing more about his next venture,” said Dominic Powers, the chief executive of CtrlShift.
“We have renewed our focus on The Hub as an enterprise advertising software that brings true efficiency, effectiveness and transparency to brands and agencies. Serm led the charge for Malaysia making it a key market for us, and that same focus will remain.”
Serm said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank CtrlShift’s founders and management for the support and the opportunities that they have provided me during the last four and a half years. I have truly enjoyed my tenure with CtrlShift, and it has been a fantastic journey for me.”
“Working with such a committed team has been truly rewarding and I believe there’s more to come from the team in the years ahead. It was a very tough decision for me to say goodbye to the CtrlShift family, but it is time for me to start a new journey. I have always been passionate about using technology to help businesses to transform, and I am excited to stay in this field with my upcoming venture.”

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The youngest new partner at the venture firm Felicis Ventures, Niki Pezeshki, on how he wins deals – gpgmail


Felicis Ventures has, in its roughly 13 years of existence, established a reputation in venture circles as a smart early-stage investment firm that’s willing to make bets almost anywhere in the world. Founded by ex-Googler Aydin Senkut, the San Francisco-based firm has also demonstrated a knack for attracting talented investors into the fold, including another former Google executive, Wesley Chan; Sundeep Peechu, who held various product roles at Intel before joining the firm in 2010; and Renata Quintini, an investor who Felicis eventually lost to Lux Capital (which more recently lost her to her own firm, Renegade Partners, which is reportedly raising a $300 million debut fund).

We talked this morning with yet another member of Felicis, Niki Pezeshki, who, following several promotions, has just became the youngest partner in the firm’s history. For aspiring VCs out there, we wondered how Pezeshki landed the role — and how he’s managing to win deals. Following is part of that conversation, edited lightly for length.

TC: Everyone wants to work in VC. How did you land this gig?

NP: Out of undergrad [at the University of Southern California], I went to work for [private equity firm] Vista Equity Partners.They hire, like, four people out of undergrad every year at USC. I was in Austin [where the firm is based] for three years. It was amazing. I didn’t know what I was getting into at the time — Vista has blossomed into this incredible fund — but it grounded me in the fundamentals of business and what is a good software investment. I think it made me more numbers-focused than a lot of other venture capitalists. I may get flamed for saying this, but I come to the world of venture with a much more numbers-driven and formulaic approach to understanding business that I think helps me pick good investments.

TC: How did you wind up in the Bay Area?

NP: My family is from LA so I came to California to work for Climate Corp. for a year; I worked in sales strategy and operations. I wanted a bit of operating experience. But I love investing so much; I wanted to go back to it. So I got a job with [PE firm] Summit Partners, where you’re doing hardcore outbound sourcing and learning how to reach out to people and get conversations started and figuring out [who you should be learning more about] out of hundreds of founders.

While there, Felicis randomly reached out to me through a friend of a friend, who said, ‘You should meet Sundeep,’ and they told Sundeep, ‘Sundeep, you should meet Niki,’ and though I hadn’t thought about venture, a lot of what they were doing really resonated with me. In many ways, I’m doing what I was doing at Summit, but with a much wider aperture.

TC: You were just promoted to partner from principal, up from senior associate, where you started in 2016. What does that mean on a practical level?

NP: A lot of the role won’t be much different than in the past year. I think from an external-facing perspective, it gives me more credibility with founders and investors. It’s one more thing that I can use to win great deals.

TC: What’s one competitive deal that you’ve won already?

NP: Modus in Seattle. It’s a [tech-driven] escrow startup that is to the title and brokerage industry what Compass is to real estate. I led the Series A deal for that company and I’m on the board and I got lot of credibility internally for that. I think they were thinking of promoting me next year or the year after, but they were like, ‘Dang, Niki just led a competitive Series A round. Let’s give him ammunition.’ [Laughs.]

TC: How did the deal come together, and what do you think won them over?

NP: I think three things: bonding with the founders, conviction about their company and speed. I’d heard that they were going to be in town for two weeks, fundraising, and I knew their goal was to leave the area with a term sheet. A lot of firms are fairly bureaucratic and it’s hard for them to spin up their team and do due diligence that quickly, but Felicis has a small team and I had conviction about the space already, so when they came through, I told them how excited I was to do something on their timeline.

We also bonded over [an up-and-coming] DJ. It’s also about creating that human connection with founders. I have a bunch of friends who are founders who say it often feels very transactional, their relationship with investors. You want to support these people.

TC: You don’t have tons of operating experience. You aren’t alone in this, but plenty of VCs will argue that to founders that it’s crucial. How do you counter this?

NP: Some founders do want more operational expertise, others don’t care that much unless the VC once ran a multibillion-dollar company. If you’re Martin Casado [of Andreessen Horowitz] and someone really loves Nicira, I’m probably not going to win against him.

But I’m relatively young compared with other partners, and I’m really passionate, and I think that comes across in the fundraising process. I think founders know that I will take a call any time, and help them build an amazing model for their business, and really help them prep for their next fundraising process, and help them with any VP recruits.

I’m still building my track record, so founders know that I care and that my incentives are aligned with theirs. If a founding team is successful, I’ll be successful versus someone who is already sitting on 15 boards and will show up once a quarter and try to own the room and who is less invested in whether or not the company does well because [that investor] has already been successful. I want every single portfolio company to do incredibly well. I want that to come across. And I think it does.


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The weird things after closing a venture round, iPhone 11, AI ad errors, and Cloud Foundry – gpgmail


Annual Extra Crunch members get 100,000 Brex Rewards points upon credit card signup

We’re excited to announce an addition to the Extra Crunch community perks. Starting today, annual Extra Crunch members can get 100,000 Brex Rewards points after signing up for a Brex corporate credit card. This offer is worth about $1,000 in credit card points.

Brex’s corporate credit card is designed for startups, and Extra Crunch was built for the startup ecosystem. We understand that startups are trying to be as frugal as possible with spending, and we felt that the Brex corporate credit card was the perfect way to stretch those valuable dollars.

Brex gives startup founders and finance teams higher credit limits than what they would get with any other business credit card option, and it does so without requiring a personal credit check or security deposit during the application. There are some impressive reward multipliers across categories like rideshare, travel, and restaurants. It also comes with $50,000 worth of partner offers from AWS, Salesforce and many more.

Learn more here.

All the weird stuff that happens to you after you close your round

There is nothing like the excitement of closing a venture round, but what happens immediately after the money hits the bank? Well, apparently, nothing really good: a deluge of scams, requests, appointments, and more from every professional service and fly-by-night operation imaginable.

Matt Rodak, the founder and CEO of FundThatFlip, compiled the emails and other messages he got after closing his $11 million Series A financing, offering us a peek inside the world of a post-close founder:


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Accion Venture Lab launches $23M inclusive fintech startup fund – gpgmail


Accion Venture Lab—the seed-stage investment arm of non-profit Accion—has raised $23 million for a new inclusive fintech startup fund.

The Accion Venture Lab Limited Partnership, as its called, will make seed-stage investments in inclusive fintech startups, defined as ventures that “that leverage technology to increase the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for the under-served at scale,” per a company release.

The new fund was raised with capital contributions from a number of participants, including the Ford Foundation, Visa Inc. and Proparco—the development finance institution of the French government.

The additional $23 million brings Accion Venture Lab‘s total capital under management to $42 million.

The new LP fund will consider startups from any geography, as along as they meet specific criteria. Overall, Accion Venture Lab doesn’t have regional investment quotas, but does look to allocate roughly 25 to 30 percent of its funds to Africa, Accion Venture Lab Managing Director Tahira Dosani told gpgmail on a call.

“We want to continue to focus on Latin-America, on Sub-Saharan Africa, on Southeast Asia as well as in the U.S. It really is about…where we see the need and the opportunity across the markets that we’re in,” she said.

In line with Accion’s mandate to boost financial inclusion globally, Accion Venture Lab already has a portfolio of 36 fintech startup investments across 5 continents—including 9 in the U.S., 8 in Latin America, and 8 in India.

“Our goal is to really be the that first institutional investor in the companies we invest in. That’s were we see the biggest capital gap. And it’s where we build capability and expertise,” Dosani said. In 2018, Accion Venture Lab successfully exited Indian fintech company Aye Finance, following exits in 2017 and 2016.

This year Accion Venture Lab supported a $6.5 million Series A investment in Lulalend, a South African startup that uses internal credit metrics to provide short-term loans to SMEs that are often unable to obtain working capital.

Accion’s new LP fund will follow past practice and make investments typically in the $500,000 range. It will start sourcing startups immediately through its investment leads around the world and already made its first seed financing to U.S. venture Joust—a fintech platform for gig economy workers.

Accion Venture Lab’s LP fund is the first time the organization has pooled third-party investment capital, according to a spokesperson.

On the appeal for those contributing, Dosani named Accion’s geographic reach and experience. “We think that’s our strength, because we’re able to invest in similar business models across different markets. And we’re able to bring that knowledge from one market to another,” she said.

The Ford Foundation contributed $2 million, according to an email from Christine Looney, Deputy Director, Mission Investments. Visa didn’t disclose its capital contribution, but told gpgmail it will play a role in governance through its participation in a Limited Partners Advisory Committee for the new fund.

As a point of observation, Accion Venture Lab stands out as a fund for giving an equal pitch footing to fintech ventures across frontier, emerging, and developed markets from Lagos to London.

Accion’s new LP fund—along with the organization’s commitment to make nearly a third of its investments in Africa—means more capital to digital finance startups on the continent. By a number of estimates, Africa’s 1.2 billion people still represent the largest share of the world’s unbanked and underbanked population.

 

 

 


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Frontier technologies are moving closer to the center of venture investment – gpgmail


As the technologies that were once considered science fiction become the purview of science, the venture capital firms that were once investing at the industry’s fringes are now finding themselves at the heart of the technology industry.

Investing in the commercialization of technologies like genetic engineering, quantum computing, digital avatars, augmented reality, new human-computer interfaces, machine learning, autonomous vehicles, robots, and space travel that were once considered “frontier” investments are now front-and-center priorities for many venture capital firms and the limited partners that back them.

Earlier this month, Lux Capital raised $1.1 billion across two funds that invest in just these kinds of companies. “[Limited partners] are now more interested in frontier tech than ever before,” said Bilal Zuberi, a partner with the firm.

He sees a few factors encouraging limited partners (the investors who provide financing for venture capital funds) to invest in the firms that are financing companies developing technologies that were once considered outside of the mainstream.


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