Root Ventures’ Second Act

Today we are excited to announce the launch of our second fund dedicated to investing in technical founders. We internally nicknamed this fund “Mach1” because we raised the speed of sound in MPH @ sea-level in SF weather: 767.269 e 5 ($76,726,900). This is over double the size of our first fund π e7 ($31,415,926.53). With this new fund, our aim is to continue supporting deeply technical founders who share our ambition for solving bold challenges in robotics, hardware, and software.

It’s no secret that hardware and robotics are some of the most challenging markets out there, but when we launched our fund three years ago, the venture market for hardware was in an even more precarious position. Our early willingness to take big risks on hardware companies quickly defined us as a “hardware fund.” While half of our first fund is built around shipping complicated hardware and robotics, it quickly became clear that many of our portfolio companies were building equally complex software that supported the same industries: CAD/CAM, simulation software, process control systems, etc. We were able to find great founders that were working on pure software that helped their customers bring intelligence to their physical environments. With this insight, we are going into this second fund not as a “hardware” VC but as a “hard tech” VC.

The companies in our first fund built industry transforming technologies on the peace dividends of smartphone proliferation: low cost sensors and displays, power efficient mobile chips, ubiquitous wireless connectivity, etc. With our second fund, new entrepreneurs will get to build on top of the dividends of the autonomous vehicle wars: LIDAR, GPUs, AI chips, high performance actuators, and huge improvements in computer vision and machine learning — while we are excited to see how autonomous vehicles change transportation, we are even more excited to see how these consequential technologies can transform people’s daily lives and asset-heavy industries: construction, agriculture, manufacturing, logistics, etc. This fund will be dedicated to software and hardware entrepreneurs with new ideas taking on these industries, and bringing this same sophisticated technology to the consumer.

Root Ventures was built by engineers, for engineers, from the ground up. Since launch, two incredible partners have joined me on this journey. Chrissy Meyer joined us with over a decade of hardware experience at Apple and Square; she has shipped more units of hardware and has likely spent more days in the depths of manufacturing than anyone in venture today. Kane Hsieh joined us from RRE Ventures, but not before founding a bicycle manufacturing business, and is our resident industrial automation guru (check out his @machinepix account). Together, we’ve guided more than 25 technical teams from concept to execution, supporting founders as an ‘invisible employee’ every step of the way. Technical strategy, design review, manufacturing, recruiting — whatever the challenge is, we’ve been in their shoes many times over, and are happy to share what we’ve learned from our time in the trenches.

Our first office was in the corner of a brewery with whom we traded IT and automation work for beer. Our new office in the Mission opens up more room for office hours, but maintains the technical necessities: a network-controlled espresso bar we built ourselves, a machine shop, a wood shop, and furniture fabricated in-house. Our space is the cafe/office/garage hybrid we’ve always dreamed of, and entrepreneurs are always welcome!

If your idea fundamentally changes the way businesses and consumers interact with the physical world, drop us a line: