8VC, the early-stage, San Francisco-based venture firm founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneur Joe Lonsdale and four other general partners, has closed it second early-stage venture fund with $640 million in commitments, says one of its investors.
The fund comes roughly two years after the firm closed its debut fund with $425 million, along with a separate, $50 million seed fund. A couple of years ago, 8VC also quietly raised a late-stage “coinvest” fund that it closed with roughly $400 million in capital commitments, meaning its total assets under management are currently around $1.5 billion.
We’d talked with Lonsdale last year about 8VC, whose mantra is simply “The world is broken; let’s fix it.”
Already at that time, the firm had invested in Synthego, a genetic engineering startup that provides scientists with genetic material used in their CRISPR research, and Color Genomics, a company whose genetics services help its customers understand their risk for the most common hereditary cancers.
Now the firm appears to be beefing up its focus on biotech. One clue toward this end: it now features a section at its site titled “Tackling the bio-IT wave,” where it lists eight areas of emerging technology that it’s tracking, and highlights seven of its related startup bets, including Mantra Bio. The startup describes itself as a deep data platform for the study of exosomes, which are small lipid vesicles — air- or fluid-filled cavities — that are excreted from cells and which deliver information that Mantra plans to use to come up with new drug therapies.
8VC also brought aboard as an advisor Andrew Witty, the former long-serving CEO of drug giant GlaxoSmithKline. (Witty is also a venture partner with the life sciences investment firm Hatteras Venture Partners.)
In the meantime, 8VC also seems to be focusing more on logistics. For example, another recent addition to its network of advisors is Chris Sultemeier, who’d previously spent 28 years at Walmart, leaving as its executive vice president of logistics in May of last year.
8VC also earlier this month co-invested in a deal with Schneider National, a publicly traded company that sells truckload, intermodal and logistics services. The two had partnered to invest in Platform Science, a company that says it’s creating an IoT system for the transportation industry.
Either way, the young venture firm looks to have built a strong portfolio to date, with other bets that include the highly valued mobile commerce app Wish, and the health insurance company Oscar, which just last month announced $165 million in new funding led by Founders Fund. The round also included Capital G, which is Alphabet’s growth-stage venture arm, and its life sciences business Verily.
Like every venture firm, 8VC has its more controversial bets, too, though undoubtedly the firm would defend them. Among the two that spring to mind are Hyperloop One and Blink. Hyperloop, which is trying to develop a high-speed transportation technology, was notoriously dysfunctional at its start and it remains unclear if the company can become a sustainable concern with the financial help of billionaire Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group became involved with the company last fall.
Blink, meanwhile, a company at work on a discount prescription service, has been embroiled in numerous lawsuits in its four-year history. Most recently, the firm filed suit against a pharmacy startup that it views as an “unlawful copycat scheme.”