Seven Seven Six, Alexis Ohanian’s New VC Agency, Launches With $150 Million And A Promise To Shake Issues Up
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has teamed up with two long-time employees for the new Seven Seven Six fund.
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Many venture capital shops have previously developed software to support their startup investments, some quietly, others for marketing effects. But when Alexis Ohanian describes the tools of his new VC company Seven Seven Six – dramatically named Cerebro, after the X-Men character – he reinvented the wheel. And the former Reddit co-founder is so confident in his pitch that it’s hard not to go along with it.
Comes up a mix of Reddit and other tools like Notion and Roam Research, Cerebro’s note taking app (think startup pitch notes and growth updates), Talent Directory (Ohanian’s huge professional network is included, searchable for keywords like “machine learning.” “Or names upvoted to the people he personally vouches for) and a message board (at the end of this month, Seven Seven Six investors will have access to notes such as what the Ohanian Fund supporters have contributed to Roland Garros, where his wife Serena Williams last competed at the French Open, to report on the family offices’ willingness to invest in Europe). And it’s one of the few flourishes that Ohanian and his staff at Seven Seven Six see as differentiators in a new breed of VC company.
“I know people want to talk to me about marketing, community, or other things, but I love building products,” says Ohanian. “I’m very motivated by what I see as change at Venture, and I think it has become clear that Venture is not immune to the software that is eating every industry.”
Ohanian’s offer to be part of the new wave of VC: Seven Seven Six, which “launched” Thursday by announcing that it had officially closed its first fund, a $ 150 million vehicle, which was im was generally stated as a target last fall. Founded along with two of Ohanian’s long-time employees from Reddit and his former venture firm in founding partner Katelin Holloway and founding chief of staff Lissie Garvin, Seven Seven Six will seek to lead or co-lead seed investments. so far there have been 17.
Katelin Holloway says the collaboration with Ohanian is working on “not turning the car around”.
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Seven Seven Six is backed by a mix of trusts, endowments, funds of funds and family offices, says Ohanian, although he refused to give any names. More important to Ohanian: Of the investment teams of his supporters, Seven Seven Six targeted a base of 50% women and 15% black or local investors. “We found some well-respected institutional investors and family offices who had never invested in ventures before,” added Ohanian. “We ask people to anonymously report themselves … I am confident that we will achieve this.”
When the answers are in, Seven Seven Six plans to post all of the data on its website. This is “public building,” a drive for transparency – and a way to stay in the eyes of potential customers, in this case entrepreneurs – that the company pursues consistently. For its recent Operator-in-Residence program, which pledges to employ three technicians with different skills as the founders of Seven Seven Six, who will work on its portfolio and develop its software for a year, the company ran an open application and published the results. Ditto his program to provide 2% in addition to each initial assessment in the pre-seed and seed phase as non-dilutive capital to support founders with “personal growth” and “nurturing”.
“I think we can hold each other accountable and make great strides by sharing what works and what doesn’t,” said Holloway, the former vice president of people and culture at Reddit in Ohanian’s second job at the social media agency. Company, then joined him as a partner at Initialized Capital. “We really want to encourage other venture firms to do the same.”
Ohanian and Garvin set off to launch Seven Seven Six last summer and were supported by Holloway a few months later. All three were deeply affected by the assassination of George Floyd and the subsequent protests against Black Lives Matter and discussions about racial justice that swept across the United States in the weeks that followed. “Alexis and I had a lot of those conversations where I just asked, ‘What can we do?'” Said Garvin, who served as Ohanian’s chief of staff at Reddit and Initialized, the company Ohanian co-founded with investor Midas List has Garry Tan. “Having the opportunity to start from scratch, where you can be super thoughtful and deliberate, really appealed to me.”
Ohanian’s chief of staff at Reddit and Initialized, Lissie Garvin, says the goal is to be “super thoughtful and deliberate” when building a company from the ground up.
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That meant a split from Initialized, where Ohanian and Tan had built a successful company behind Coinbase, Instacart and Ro after they started investing as partners in Accelerator Y Combinator. The parties involved and those close to the two describe a drifting apart of the fund strategy (e.g. early-phase focus versus multi-phase approach) and operation (Ohanian, reached for this story via zoom in a hotel room in Europe, is known for a wide range of ideas and projects he shares, often on Twitter, shooting from the hip.) In April, Tan called the breakup a “conscious breakup”.
“I’m a proud supporter of the 776 team,” Tan wrote to Forbes this week. “They are great investors and we look forward to continuing our close partnership over the years by investing together and supporting the next generation of world-changing startups.” “Garry is very important to me,” says Ohanian. “We did something really great with Initialized and he will continue to have a huge impact on technology,” he adds, calling up Tan’s now popular YouTube channel.
Biggest difference from Initialized: Seven Seven Six operates according to the Ohanic time, which means it is completely remote and asynchronous and which can be a chaotic, if creative, mix of time zones and projects to the outside world. “We often joke that he’s the gas and we’re the brakes,” says Holloway. “Our job is not to turn the car around.”
Before showing off Cerebro on his hotel’s dodgy WiFi – including the status of an intro to a famous entertainer who became an investor, and more pre-game tennis smooching information we didn’t want to name – Ohanian argues that he was a ” semi-remote ”working life over the past ten years, he is well equipped to set up a VC company that has been redesigned after the pandemic.
“When everyone switched to Zoom for a year, I felt like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises when he told Batman, ‘You just accepted the dark. I was born in it, formed by it, ‘”says Ohanian with an enthusiastic impression of the villain played by Tom Hardy in the 2012 film.
Like any company, however, Seven Seven Six is ultimately judged on its startup portfolio. The company’s largest check to date was a $ 20 million investment in Alt, a sports card store; while in Paris he himself sent the competitor a card from Roger Federer and then tweeted it. Other recent investments include Dispo, the photo-sharing app that recently sparked a Serie A after it severed all ties with co-founder David Dobrik due to serious allegations made by the YouTube creator. After Seven Seven Six promised to donate all profits from Dispo’s seed capital investment to charity, Seven Seven Six participated in the new increase. “This team didn’t do anything wrong and we stand by them,” says Ohanian. “In fact, they made an app that people love and that goes viral in a new country every few weeks.”
Then, just before that story, Ohanian tweeted about another investment: a $ 50 million Series B resulted in plant-based protein maker Simulate and its nuggets brand, Nuggs. For a $ 150 million early-stage fund, the investment seemed like a headache. A source familiar with the deal says the check from Seven Seven Six was $ 10 million; It has also already launched some special purpose vehicles that would increase assets under management.
“I’m very happy to be the signal that starts a competition round,” says Ohanian of his hype approach at the time. Listening to him is the “gregarious” personality he features on social media, not just for fun, but tactical marketing for his entrepreneurs and funds. When he’s not working, he just logs out to be with his daughter for the Olympics or to play video games.
But even then, Ohanian will likely tweet about it to his 400,000+ Twitter followers. On the morning of this article’s publication, he brought new followers to the Seven Seven Six Twitter account online (he hit his target of 15,000 “start day”) and promoted a TV hit through the fund with a rocket ship gif.
“It becomes an advantage to be your most complete and authentic self online. Founders don’t take money from a soulless company logo, they take money from people, and they want to get to know these people, ”explains Ohanian. If that’s not for everyone, Ohanian is safe. “I’m at a point in my life where I know what I want to do and how I want to do it.”