Despite an Uncertain Market, CRV Doubles Down With Two New Funds
By Team CRV
CRV will celebrate its 52nd anniversary on November 15th and we’re still investing in early-stage software companies, the same thing we’ve successfully been doing since 1970. We do not chase the latest shiny object because our history has proven over and over that focus at the earliest stages truly matters. Our firm’s lengthy history began at the tail end of the mild Nixon era recession and we’re one of only a handful of tech VC firms that persevered through:
- The oil embargo recession
- The 1980 recession
- The energy crisis recession
- The Gulf War recession
- The Dot.com recession
…and the Great Recession.
Just reading that list may give you the impression that recessions, like seasons, are something that happen fairly often. You’re right. They do. In fact, this generation …and the next …and the generations after that are likely to live through not one, but a number of recessions across their lifetimes.
While wildfires, great white shark activity and monkeypox weren’t all part of prior recessionary periods, there is one thing that we found to be a constant across all of those uncertain times. We turned to, and relied on, people we could depend on. Friends, family members and loved ones. People we could trust. We have a saying at CRV… When nothing is certain, trust is everything.
We’ve spent over half a century investing, not just in technology, but people. Founding teams with unique backgrounds and insights that enable them to corral and own markets. Entrepreneurs who have a strong desire to do something new. People who want the technology their teams built to empower individuals — not institutions — giving people more control over their day-to-day lives and the freedom to determine how they work. People we trust and founders we form lasting relationships with.
Investing at the Seed and Series A stage is risky because the future is by no means a book that’s already been written. We’re proud to have invested in over 500 companies, and their passionate founders, throughout our history. We first invested in Tony, Evan, Andy and Stanley at DoorDash back in 2013, nine weeks after the company launched. These days DoorDash connects consumers with their favorite local and national businesses in more than 7,000 cities around the world.
We partnered with Howie and Andrew at Airtable in 2015, when it was just a small team of four people with a beta product. Today 80 percent of the Fortune 100 rely on Airtable and the company has raised $620M to date.
Vercel’s Guillermo Rauch grew up in Argentina and is a repeat CRV backed entrepreneur. We invested in Vercel in 2015, the same year Vercel was founded. Now the frontend teams at the likes of McDonald’s, The Washington Post and Tripadvisor rely on Vercel to develop, preview and ship.
Over the decades we’ve partnered with entrepreneurs even when they didn’t have a product to show us yet or even a company name, logo nor even an office space. As conviction driven investors, we’re able to make bold non-obvious bets, early on. Many of our greatest investments as a firm came about because a member of our team had confidence in the founding team. It’s because of the long lasting partnerships we have here at CRV, and because we all aim to do right by the firm year after year, that we can make that magic happen… believing the future can be better than the present, even if it hasn’t been built yet. That being said, at CRV we aren’t a one man band. There’s no ring leader. Our small, close knit team members trust one another. Both investing and entrepreneurship can, at times, be lonely roads because the paths are often winding ones. Founders turn to us because our multigenerational team has a proven track record of success that spans not just good times, but quite a few less certain times too. When founders choose CRV, they join a family that moves fast, but is also steadfast. We’ve been helping founders work through it since 1970.
Speaking of our multigenerational team, we have a lengthy tradition of making room at the table for new investors. This year we added two new investors, Veronica Orellana and Chiraag Deora, as well as our new head of investor relations, Heather Judd, to our talented team.
Across our well rounded team we have multiple Midas List winners, multiple Brink List winners and billions of dollars of value that have been created by our investors, but perhaps most importantly, we have an investment team that hails from different backgrounds. Our founders have different perspectives and we strongly feel as though it’s important for our team members to have different experiences and mindsets as well. Many members of our investment team didn’t grow up in the U.S. or are the children of immigrants. Our small, close knit investment team has ties to Iran, Pakistan, England, Turkey, India, Israel, Japan, Taiwan, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Today we’re announcing we secured $1.5B across two funds. Our approach to investing this time around is a logical one because it’s the path that has served us well during other tumultuous times. We’re going to continue doing what our team has done best over the past five plus decades… lead rounds in ambitious early projects led by people we trust.
CRV XIX is our first $1B early-stage fund. This is due in large part to the fact that round sizes, valuations and frequency of raise have all increased dramatically. The size of a Series A investment has more than doubled in the last four years to around $22M and of course, early stage is CRV’s sweet spot. (It’s also worth noting that our last fund, XVIII, was heavily oversubscribed.) As with our last fund, we secured these funds entirely during the current pandemic, a feat we attest to the strength of our incredible entrepreneurs and the talented people on their teams as well as to the conviction of our limited partners, many of whom have put their trust in us across multiple decades.
We will use CRV XIX to back software pioneers at their seed and Series A formation stages across areas of focus we’re already intimately familiar with, as evidenced by the winning companies we’ve already partnered with early on in these spaces. To date we’ve invested in over 500 companies across spaces like the developer ecosystem (Kong, Postman, Vercel), cloud abstraction (Aviatrix), low code / no code (Airtable), next generation CRM (Iterable) and marketplaces (DoorDash, Mercury). New fund, but with the same rigorous approach and discipline.
Select II is our second growth stage fund. Select II will be dedicated to continuing to fuel and back our best breakout companies. CRV backs founders early on and we enjoy continuing to partner with them as they grow their businesses. Entrepreneurs like Clint Sharp. Clint is the CEO and co-founder of Cribl, a company that partnered with CRV in 2019, during its seed round. We backed Clint and Cribl again when we led their Series A and we also participated in Cribl’s Series B, C and D rounds. To date Cribl has raised over $400M.
Though our offices are in San Francisco and Palo Alto, time has taught us that great talent (and ideas) can flourish anywhere. Our team loves working with remote teams and entrepreneurs from abroad, bridging the gap and helping entrepreneurs gain traction in Silicon Valley and beyond. We enjoy working with clever founders across the globe like Brazilian born Paolo Martins of Arena, Loop (which is based in Columbus, Ohio), Checkly (from Berlin, Germany) and Factorial (out of Barcelona, Spain) just to name a few. In fact, CRV partnered with Zendesk back in 2009, when they were a small startup in Copenhagen, and stuck with Mikkel and the team through their 2014 IPO and still proudly work with that founding team.
Longevity, loyalty and logic aren’t words you’ll see splashed across news story headlines. They aren’t words of shock and awe. Staying the course doesn’t exactly invoke drama nor does it court controversy, but consistency builds trust and that’s something we celebrate and value here at CRV.
We strongly feel as though our startups, our team and our limited partners are perfectly poised to weather whatever storms may come now or in the future. If you’re looking for a partner who can help your business navigate whatever rough waters might be ahead, get to know our teammates, drop us a line and say hi. We never get tired of batting around ideas and meeting passionate founders.