Tusk Venture Partners, the now six-year-old New York-based early-stage venture capital firm co-founded by longtime political strategist Bradley Tusk and former Blackstone executive Jordan Nof, has closed its third fund with $140 million in capital commitments. That’s double the $70 million the company raised for its second flagship fund, which closed in late 2019. (The company then closed its first opportunity fund to invest more in its breakout portfolio companies.) at the end of last year with $60 million.)
The company says it has now invested in more than 50 startups in total, leading 20% of those rounds and seeing 12 exits in the process.
A few of its biggest successes include crypto exchange Coinbase, which went public via a direct listing last year; the Lemonade insurance platform, which went public in the summer of 2020; and FanDuel, which was acquired in 2020 by sports betting, gaming and entertainment company Flutter.
Tusk Venture Partners has seen enough momentum that the company recently doubled the size of its investment team. In addition to Tusk and Nof, Michaela Balderston, a communications professional who joined the firm early on, was promoted to partner and joined the firm’s investment committee. Tusk Venture Partners has also recruited Brad Welch, who recently joined as a partner Morpheus Ventures in Los Angeles, where he was a partner.
All four are now based in New York, although Tusk Venture Partners is more of a bi-coastal firm. Nof says 40% of companies bet on the West Coast, 40% on the East Coast and 20% elsewhere, with holding companies in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas, among others.
Among those portfolio companies, Tusk Venture Partners — like every other venture capital firm right now — has stakes in hot startups whose valuations can fluctuate as the markets zigzag and zag. One such bet is Circle Internet Financial. In February, the crypto company agreed to a new merger with a SPAC that valued the company at $9 billion, double its valuation under the previous deal. But crypto valuations have been plummeting across the board for the past few weeks, and this deal is still “ongoing,” Nof notes.
The company also has a stake in telemedicine company Ro, which was valued by its backers at $7 billion in February, but has had its ups and downs internally, as TechCrunch previously reported here and here. With close rival Hims, which went public through a SPAC in January 2021, now boasting a market cap of $800 million (down from $1.6 billion at the time of the SPAC merger), it’s conceivable that Ro is impacted by these two internal and external factors.
Tusk Venture Partners – which says it routinely uses its policy expertise to help startups navigate regulatory barriers – was also an early investor in micromobility company Bird, which captured national attention with its laudable electric scooters. in 2017 and was valued at $2.5 billion. at the start of 2020. The company, which went public late last year through a SPAC, has seen its market capitalization drop to $290 million, with shares trading at $1 in when we type.
For his part, Nof says he’s neither surprised nor overly concerned about the current downturn. “I think the market has the moment it has needed for a long time.”
Tusk himself adds that market fluctuations aside, the plan continues to invest in the broader company’s four favorite categories, writing initial checks for up to $7 million from his new fund. to “fintech, which can range from all things crypto, NFT, DeFi to insurance; digital health; transportation; and games. We occasionally invest in something outside of these four areas,” he adds, “but if you’ve gone through all of our investments, almost all of them fall into these categories.
Among Tusk Venture Partners’ most recent deals is Allocate, a San Francisco-based digital investment platform for investors to access venture funds and co-investments that announced $15.3 million. in Series A funding earlier this month, led by M13.
In March, the company also led a deal on Radish Health, a New York-based healthcare platform for city governments and midsize businesses, which raised $4 million in seed funding.
TechCrunch also recently covered another investment from Tusk Venture Partners: Landline, a four-year-old Fort Collins, Colorado-based transportation startup that aims to distribute the airline check-in process by processing people in many smaller hubs closer to home long before they arrive at their departure gate. More information about this company here.