Riot Ventures, the Los Angeles-based, early-stage and deep technology investment firm is going out to market to raise a $75 million second fund to finance the development of startups in LA and beyond, according to fundraising documents viewed by TechCrunch.
The firm has largely flown under the radar, but it has been investing in startups applying innovations in automation, artificial intelligence, computer vision, computational biology, material sciences and robotics to industrial products and processes for the past two years.
Its first fund was a modest $10 million vehicle that the firm’s co-founders, Stephen Marcus and Will Coffield, raised to test the thesis their fledgling fund was exploring. Chiefly, they thought that robotics and machine learning were going to transform everything from aerospace to industrial manufacturing and retail, and they saw Los Angeles as a unique location from which to deploy capital.
Since the initial fund launched in 2017, the companies in Riot’s portfolio — including a number of later-stage special purpose investments made in companies like the point-of-sale tablet manufacturer Toast; the metal 3D printing equipment manufacturer Desktop Metal; and Shield AI, a stealthy drone company that works in the defense industry — are now worth roughly $16 billion.
In all, Riot has invested around $60 million through its direct investments and special purpose vehicles. But it’s not the capital that sets the firm apart, according to the pitch deck viewed by TechCrunch.
Marcus has a long background in angel investing and company creation. He’s a six-time serial entrepreneur whose sold telecom companies to acquirers like American Tower, Sprint and National Grid. Meanwhile, Coffield has spent the past several years building out a network in Los Angeles and eight years in the venture capital industry.
However, the firm places its emphasis on its newest partner, Jenna Bryant, a recruiter who spent the past years building out teams for some of the biggest names in the Los Angeles technology and entertainment industries, including Walt Disney Co., Oculus, Snap, Tinder and others.
“We actively recruit for our portfolio companies which enables us to meet a large swath of highly technical people,” the firm writes in its pitch deck. “We use this pool to win deals, make our companies more valuable, and find future hard tech founders. This is a core asset and function for our firm led by our Partner Jenna Bryant.”
Just as important as its recruitment practice is its position in Los Angeles, which is emerging as a hotbed for talent in robotics, rocketry, drones and defense. That’s borne out by investments in companies like Shield AI and Elementary Robotics — two companies in the Riot portfolio based in Southern California.