We spoke with Jack Crawford, General Partner at Impact Venture Capital, to learn more about his firm.
Jack Crawford, General Partner at Impact Venture Capital
Tell us about your firm. What makes it different?
Impact Venture Capital invests in seed-stage information technology companies focused on artificial intelligence applied to key industries including agriculture, education, finance, government, healthcare, retail, and transportation. Our firm actively collaborates with our broad network of corporate venture groups that serve as partners, customers, and co-investors for our portfolio companies. From our headquarters in Silicon Valley and a satellite office in Sacramento, our firm runs large-scale tech summits which typically include 1,000+ corporate venture groups, policymakers, and entrepreneurs connecting market leaders, market influencers, and market innovators.
Where did your firm’s name come from?
With a focus on delivering superior investment returns, our firm believes venture capital can accelerate innovation to positively impact people in every industry and every geographic ecosystem. Through collaboration with innovative entrepreneurs focused on cutting edge technologies like robotics, drones, autonomous vehicles, and cybersecurity, we are positively impacting the world with new solutions for food, education, healthcare, transportation, and other key industries. Through collaboration with large market-leading corporations who are investing to access innovation, we are positively impacting capital formation in the US to fully integrate fortune 500 corporates into the venture capital landscape. Over the next 5 years, we believe that more and more financially focused venture firms like ours will view themselves as non-traditional “impact” investors. Our firm name aligns with this new market trend and our long term strategy.
What defines your portfolio?
As artificial intelligence applications are created with a focus on data management, analytics, cybersecurity, business intelligence, process automation, and others, we find smart passionate founders making bold moves to create market-leading companies. Each of our portfolio companies has raised a round of financing including corporate venture groups from our network as a key element of our investment strategy and support. Alongside our corporate partners, we are working to add market insight, management and board talent, customers, partners, and capital in support of the management teams at our portfolio companies. Our access to corporate venture groups and policymakers empower the startups, accelerate their growth, and help navigate the gridlock in industries influenced by state and federal government. How is the firm different today than when you first started? In addition to the Founding GPs, we have expanded our investing team and our group of Venture Partners to ensure active support of our larger and more diverse portfolio of companies. We have also expanded the ways in which we collaborate with corporate venture groups beyond co-investing to include the exchange of market research, the sharing of deal flow, and the inclusion in our video series for corporates called Impact TV. Lastly, the scale of our tech summits has grown so large that we now host them on the floor of an NBA basketball arena to accommodate the large crowds.
Why is your firm a part of NVCA?
We firmly believe in the positive global impact of the US venture capital industry. The NVCA has assembled the most significant and influential network of venture capital firms and corporate venture firms in the world on a collaborative platform. By investing and collaborating alongside NVCA members into smart entrepreneurs, we can help build incredibly valuable companies that will solve some of the biggest challenges the world faces today. Being part of a network of corporate venture and venture capital peers that believes in this effort, shares best practices, and that holds each other to high standards of integrity is a no-brainer. Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region. With approximately 40% of all US venture capital invested into Northern California each year, we are seeing the formation of a “technology triangle” between San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento as Silicon Valley expands geographically. Our investment focus is on the US with special attention to the technology triangle in California. In addition to playing a significant role as an investor and host of tech summits in Northern California, we are collaborating with other investors in the fast-growing ecosystems in Southern California, Utah, Colorado, and Texas.
What’s ahead for your firm in 2019?
After a final close on a “proof-of-concept' Fund I, investing in fourteen companies, and syndicating follow-on rounds with corporate venture groups, we have now launched our Fund II in 2019. Our current portfolio includes dynamic companies like Advanced Farm (AI/robotics), Cornami (AI/high-performance computing), GigaIO (AI/Data Centers), Nightingale Security (AI/Drones), and Pondera (AI/Cybersecurity) that are tracking now with customers and revenues. Following the recent initial close of our Fund II with existing corporate, endowment, and foundation limited partners, we plan to bring in a few more institutional limited partner and then turn our attention to building the next portfolio of approximately 30 seed stage artificial intelligence companies alongside co-investments from corporate venture groups. Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less. Smart, Connected, Active, Ethical, Bold (with a wicked sense of humor. That’s 11, but who’s counting…)