Austin has made headlines over the previous yr for various causes: It’s house to Oracle’s new headquarters. Tesla is constructing a large gigafactory within the Texas capital. Folks, principally tech employees, are leaving the Bay Space in droves to settle within the metropolis, driving up house costs within the course of.
However, it’s not simply tech employees. Quite a few enterprise capitalists have arrange store in Austin, together with Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital and Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale, who stated final yr he was shifting his enterprise capital agency, 8VC, from Silicon Valley to town.
“I don’t imagine everybody ought to transfer to Austin. I don’t suppose it’s proper for everybody, however I do suppose it’s proper for us.”
The newest VC to name Austin house is Geoff Lewis, founder and managing associate of Bedrock Capital, a 4-year-old early-stage enterprise capital agency with $1 billion in belongings underneath administration. Lewis began his investing profession at Founders Fund, the place he was a associate for a number of years. He both serves or has served on the board of corporations reminiscent of Lyft, Nubank, Vercel and Workrise.
Lewis additionally led early investments in Want, Upstart, Tilray, Canva, Rippling, ClearCo, Flock Security and various different unicorns. He’s largely credited with popularizing the phrase “narrative violation” to explain promising corporations which are ignored or underestimated as a result of they’re incongruent with standard narratives.
In making the transfer to Austin, the investor stated he had grown disillusioned with Silicon Valley and the area’s continued lack of give attention to fixing what he described as real-world issues.
In a Medium submit, Lewis stated he was first launched to Austin after backing Workrise (previously referred to as RigUp), a market for expert commerce employees. The truth is, he was the corporate’s first seed investor eight years in the past and has gone on to put money into the corporate eight subsequent instances. At present, Workrise is valued at practically $three billion.
Lewis stated he was drawn to the corporate not simply because it was “going to be enormous” but in addition as a result of it was “rather more involved with actual individuals and actual locations than at present’s Silicon Valley behemoths.”
“Put merely, it’s a extra humane expertise firm,” Lewis writes. “And it’s my seek for this extra humane style of technological innovation that introduced me to Texas. I’ve lived on the coasts and constructed my profession as a Silicon Valley expertise entrepreneur and investor, however I’ve by no means felt of the coasts or as an insider in Silicon Valley — I didn’t go to Stanford nor develop up wealthy.”
TechCrunch talked with Lewis to get extra particulars round his determination to maneuver his agency to Austin, study extra of his views on why Silicon Valley is an excessive amount of of “a bubble” (spoiler alert: they will not be standard with lots of you!) and the way he plans to put money into extra of Texas’ nexus of startups.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
I perceive that you just grew up in Canada. How did you first get entangled within the tech business to start with?
I began off as an entrepreneur myself, constructing a SaaS firm within the journey house [Topguest]. I based that enterprise in New York Metropolis, and in 2009 ended up shifting my staff to San Francisco. I spent most of my profession from 2009 to 2021 bouncing between New York and SF. We ended up promoting that firm in 2011 and it was a fairly OK consequence. I joined Founders Fund in 2012, the place I simply fell in love with investing. I ended up actually having a particular trajectory there and 2012 was a good time to be a younger VC in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. I ended up specializing in marketplaces, each client and enterprise, backing corporations like Lyft and Canva early. I additionally did the agency’s first fintech funding in Latin America, backing Nubank, and now that firm has a $30 billion valuation.
I grew up with fairly modest means and by 2017, I figured I had completed nicely sufficient as a VC and I ought to strike out on attempting to get again to what I needed to do, which was extra entrepreneurial. So we based Bedrock in late 2017. We’re on Fund III now and it’s been in step with the funding philosophy I pursued — looking for what we name narrative violations, or these counternarrative corporations which are being ignored or underestimated. We had been very early traders in Cameo, which is now clearly a fairly well-known enterprise, for instance.
You initially selected to base Bedrock in New York. Why?
After I was at Founders Fund I had a house in each cities (SF and NYC), so I used to be the child who grew up in Calgary, Canada and needed to dwell on the coasts and be within the heart of the motion. However we determined to really headquarter Bedrock in New York in 2017 as a result of we had an inclination that Silicon Valley was turning into slightly bit overly self-referential and needed to be a bit exterior of the noise. New York is much less of a one-horse city, so we determined to base the agency there, however actually invested in, and proceed to speculate, in all places throughout the nation and fairly actually all over the world. We invested in WordPress within the early days and extra not too long ago in Argyle and Lambda Faculty.