Author: Donald Butler

Welcoming Eddie Ackerman Back to the Team!



We’re pleased to announce that Eddie Ackerman has rejoined our team as a Strategic Finance Operating Partner. This is a homecoming of sorts for Eddie, and we are thrilled to be working with Eddie again. As many of you know, Eddie had previously worked with our group before jumping back into an operating role. Eddie’s work going forward will be focused on helping our portfolio companies with all things finance, including financial planning and benchmarking, as well as being an additional resource for finance teams. Eddie will also help our team with analysis and diligence for new investments as we continue to be active on the new investment front.

Prior to rejoining Thomvest, Eddie led the finance and operations functions at Styra, a venture-backed startup that is an emerging leader in the cloud native authorization market. While at Styra, Eddie led the build-out and scale-up of the company’s operations following their Series B financing.

This was Eddie’s second tour of duty as the leader of the finance functions of a rapidly scaling startup. Eddie previously managed many of the finance functions at Encino Energy, including the scale-up of the business from an early-stage startup to a very large organization. Prior to that, he worked in investment banking at Deutsche Bank and so he has extensive M&A experience as well.

We’re thrilled to expand the Thomvest Ventures team as we continue to focus on investments across our core fintech, real estate tech, cybersecurity and cloud infrastructure verticals. Eddie’s in-depth operating experience brings (Read more...)

Welcoming Dave Hafford to the Team



We’re pleased to announce that Dave Hafford has joined our team as a Senior Associate. Dave brings extensive investing and operational experience, and will be working closely with Nima Wedlake and myself, focusing on early stage investments across the financial technology and real estate verticals.

Prior to joining Thomvest, Dave was an investor at Morpheus Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on deep tech and financial technology. While at Morpheus, Dave invested in companies including Skolem Technologies (DeFi Prime Brokerage), VeriSIM (AI-assisted drug discovery), and others. Prior to that, Dave was a Vice President at Platform Ventures, a venture capital fund investing in technology and consumer companies. At Platform Ventures, he invested in companies like Peloton (Consumer Technology), Moneylion (Consumer Fintech), Unchained Capital (Cryptocurrency Prime Brokerage), Beam Dental (Insurtech), and others. Additionally, Dave also served as the Chief Financial Officer of Shadowbox, a NY-based fitness business, where he oversaw strategic, financial, and growth initiatives. Prior to that, he worked in investment banking at Stifel in San Francisco.

We’re thrilled to expand the Thomvest Ventures team as we continue to focus on investments across financial technology and real estate verticals. Dave’s vast experience in venture capital, along with his passion for the impact of financial technology on consumer and enterprise applications, brings a tremendous amount of value and strength to our team.

Dave is originally from Southern California and holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Accounting from the University of Michigan, and a (Read more...)

Thomvest Turns 25: Reflections on the Road Less Traveled in Venture



Our Origins
This year marks the 25th anniversary of our firm’s first significant venture investment. As we reflect on our twenty-five years of investing, our journey in the VC industry has been unique: we are one of the few family-owned venture firms to have grown to an institutional scale while remaining backed by the same founding individual. Our firm has leveraged the cultural grounding of our Canadian origins while becoming a top-performing investor in Silicon Valley.

The genesis of Thomvest can be traced back to when our Founder, Peter Thomson, started to learn programming with one of the first IBM PCs produced in 1981. Peter taught himself BASIC using the manuals with his PC and later learned Pascal. Peter realized the impact technology would have on both consumers and businesses and shifted his attention from an interest in programming to an interest in investing in technology startups.

Our First Investment
Certicom was our first significant startup investment twenty-five years ago. Certicom pioneered encryption technology for use in cell phones, and following Peter’s investment, the company grew and was listed on the NASDAQ before being acquired by Blackberry. That experience set him on the path toward venture investing as a calling. Peter brought on board one of our founding colleagues, Bill Dodds, to begin investing not only in Canada but also in Silicon Valley.

Our work in our early days in the Valley was reminiscent of what we see with the entrepreneurs we work with daily — a focus on grit and scrappiness while building (Read more...)

When Will Valuations Bottom Out? Lessons From Past Downturns



Source: Katie Rhead

To help startups put their financing plans in context, we wanted to develop a sense for how long the current downturn in VC funding might last and how far valuations could fall. Nobody can predict the future, of course, but just because we can’t predict the future doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t learn from the past. In this instance, we wanted to see what insights past downturns might have regarding two specific questions:

· How long were past downturns (and what does this imply for this one)?

· How quickly do venture valuations reflect changes in public market valuations?

Our analysis suggests that it could be several more quarters until we reach the bottom of this downturn and that it could take several more years until we return to the highs of 2021. We also found that venture valuations closely track public market valuations and that they typically adjust within one to two quarters. To predict when venture valuations will have bottomed out, one need look no further than the NASDAQ Composite index as a leading indicator.

How long could this downturn last?

To learn from past downturns, we used Pitchbook, Inc. data to analyze how a various metrics including valuations, round sizes, and number of financings correlated with metrics in the public markets and the broader economy. We looked at data going back to 1995 to include data around both the popping of the Internet bubble in 2000–2001 and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008–2009.

The data (Read more...)

Capchase and the Evolution of Enterprise Lending



Capchase and the Evolution of Enterprise Lending

We’re excited to announce our investment in Capchase as part of their Series B financing. Our firm has been fortunate to work with many of the pioneers in fintech, and we are excited to partner with Miguel, Przemek, and the entire team at Capchase in the emerging category of revenue-based financing for recurring-revenue businesses.

Our experience in working with other leaders within fintech such as LendingClub, Kabbage, and SoFi has been that they combine several key features that collectively revolutionize the customer experience. Key aspects of this include: (i) a greatly simplified customer experience, (ii) a shift to digital underwriting and a real-time understanding of credit risk, and (iii) greater insights into how to better serve borrowers over time, whether that be through data-driven insights or new products. Capchase similarly pulls these elements together, but this time with a focus on helping fast-moving recurring-revenue companies further accelerate their growth.

We were struck as we interviewed Capchase customers by the elegance of their customer experience. As any startup CEO knows, the process of getting a loan from a bank or venture lender can take several months. The back-and-forth discussions with lenders often involves coordinating meetings, management presentations, and collecting and organizing various types of reports. If successful, this leads to a term sheet from a potential lender that also comes with its own unique set of features and further negotiation. Capchase saw the opportunity to greatly simplify this process by offering an API-driven (Read more...)

We’re hiring a FinTech Associate



We are recruiting for an Associate to join our investment team focused on FinTech. Our firm has backed many of the leading entrepreneurs in FinTech, and we invite you to join us on this journey! The ideal candidate will bring a mix of analytical skills, strong intrinsic motivation, and experience working in financial services either at a startup or an incumbent. We invite qualified candidates to email a copy of their resume to hiring@thomvest.com.

About Thomvest

Thomvest Ventures is a cross-stage venture capital firm with more than $500 million under management. We focus on opportunities in the fields of financial technology, cybersecurity and infrastructure, and real estate technology. We have made more than 60 investments across these verticals, including industry leaders such as Blend, Ladder Life, LendingClub, Kabbage, SoFi, Tala, and many others.

The capital we invest is our own, enabling us to be more creative, flexible, and patient with entrepreneurs. We operate our fund with a small core group, meaning that as an Associate, your contributions will be significant in supporting our investment efforts and decision-making. Our firm has a strong tradition of mentoring and developing our team members. As a result, we have a track record of promoting team members as they grow, including into partnership roles at the Firm.

About the Role

The ideal candidate will be self-motivated, detail-oriented, thrive with light supervision, and be willing to get involved across all aspects of the firm’s operations, including:

  • Working with our investment team to identify and develop investment theses, and (Read more...)

We’re hiring a FinTech Associate



We are recruiting for an Associate to join our investment team focused on FinTech. Our firm has backed many of the leading entrepreneurs in FinTech, and we invite you to join us on this journey! The ideal candidate will bring a mix of analytical skills, strong intrinsic motivation, and experience working in financial services either at a startup or an incumbent. We invite qualified candidates to email a copy of their resume to hiring@thomvest.com.

About Thomvest

Thomvest Ventures is a cross-stage venture capital firm with more than $500 million under management. We focus on opportunities in the fields of financial technology, cybersecurity and infrastructure, and real estate technology. We have made more than 60 investments across these verticals, including industry leaders such as Blend, Ladder Life, LendingClub, Kabbage, SoFi, Tala, and many others.

The capital we invest is our own, enabling us to be more creative, flexible, and patient with entrepreneurs. We operate our fund with a small core group, meaning that as an Associate, your contributions will be significant in supporting our investment efforts and decision-making. Our firm has a strong tradition of mentoring and developing our team members. As a result, we have a track record of promoting team members as they grow, including into partnership roles at the Firm.

About the Role

The ideal candidate will be self-motivated, detail-oriented, thrive with light supervision, and be willing to get involved across all aspects of the firm’s operations, including:

  • Working with our investment team to identify and develop investment theses, and (Read more...)

We’re excited to announce the promotion of our colleague Lauren Weston to Senior Associate.



We’re excited to announce the promotion of our colleague Lauren Weston to Senior Associate. Lauren joined our team in August 2020 from Morgan Stanley, where she had been covering both financial institutions as an Investment Banking Analyst and later covered residential and commercial real estate companies as part of their Equity Research group.

With the pandemic, Lauren was our first remote hire and spent her initial time with the firm based in New York; these days, she is bucking the trend and has moved to San Francisco to be closer to the team and to many of the entrepreneurs we work with. Lauren’s focus has been on two of our three primary investing verticals, FinTech and PropTech, and she has been instrumental in our research efforts in these areas: she led the research on new sub-sectors including publishing a seminal Construction Market Map and leading our ongoing research into embedded lending.

Lauren joined our group for what has turned out to be a historic moment both in venture and for Thomvest: against the backdrop of record increases in venture dollars invested, 2021 was a record year for Thomvest in terms of dollars invested in both new and existing relationships. In her time with us, Lauren has supported a number of new investments including Mynd, Obie, Ocrolus, Sequin, and several others that have yet to be publicly announced. Lauren has also been a key part of the investment team supporting our work with existing portfolio companies, including our decision to lead the (Read more...)

Investing in Ladder, the First Digital Life Insurance Company



There are a few times in an investor’s life when you experience a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We believe that this type of opportunity exists in the life insurance industry. That’s why we are excited to announce our investment in the first fully-digital life insurance company, Ladder. Thomvest Ventures has led a $100mm Series D financing in the company together with OMERS Growth Equity.

When we began researching how the insurance industry might enter the digital era, we were struck by the lack of consumer-direct life insurance brands akin to what GEICO or Progressive have built in the auto industry. As we interviewed incumbents in the life insurance industry, we were struck by the conventional wisdom that “life insurance is sold, not bought.” As consumers increasingly shift their purchase behaviors online, however, it feels like this adage is beginning to show its age. In much the same way that the travel industry has moved online over the last two decades, we believe that the life insurance industry is undergoing a similar transformation. At the end of this transformation, we expect to see Ladder as one of the leading household names in life insurance.

To put this digital transformation into perspective, the 2020 Insurance Barometer Study found that 29% of U.S. consumers they surveyed would prefer to buy their life insurance online, a trend that has been growing steadily. And yet, less than 10% of policies researched online are purchased online. Ladder is enabling this process to happen for consumers in a way (Read more...)

Rethinking Work: Measuring the Pandemic’s Impact on Company Culture



Katie Rhead

This article was originally published on Forbes here.

The pandemic has clearly shifted the way that startup employees work with their companies. What was once viewed with some suspicion — employees who would rather work from home than alongside their colleagues — suddenly became the new normal. We’re now at the point that companies are trying to find the optimal balance between remote work and working in the same location, be it an office or another venue. How should we balance the increased productivity of work-from-home with the limitations that come from not working in the same location? Should we embrace a fully remote model or is a hybrid model preferable? When should we bring teams together?

We wanted to understand how our portfolio companies are managing this transition. We surveyed our portfolio company CFOs on this topic and found a very different outlook for work patterns than before the pandemic. Our discussions with portfolio company management teams also uncovered a company cultural shift from one of observing the process of employees working to measuring the outcomes of an individual or team.

This recalibration towards measuring outcomes appears to be a harbinger of a potentially profound shift in startup culture overall. While work-from-home brings with it a surprising degree of productivity, we are also beginning to see the negative impact it is can have on employees as they spend more time working in isolation. The relationship between companies and their employees can become more transactional if managers do not take steps to (Read more...)