Fabrice Glinda says he never intended to run a venture company. He really (really) enjoyed his angel investments. Together with OLX co-founder Alec Oxenford, he says he has already written checks to over 150 startups. “We’ve been working together for a long time. It was really a family office that was making big angel investments,” he recalls Grinda.
Given the influx of checks, potential LPs, including strategic investors, family offices and founders, have begun to show interest in investing with them. Oxenford eventually co-founded another marketplace, and in 2015 he decided to launch Letgo (which was later acquired by his rival OfferUp). But Grinda was more inclined to invest with another friend and serial entrepreneur, Jose Marin, and by 2016, the duo, provided by Norwegian telecom company Telenor, had single-handedly financed the fund, aiming to achieve its goals. provide $50 million for
Fast forward and their organization, FJ Labs, has evolved from a two-person organization to a sprawling company with 34 employees, including eight investors and four “full-fledged partners.” In 2018, it started to grow in earnest when LP pledged to invest his $175 million. Now, Grinda is announcing that FJ Labs has secured $260 million in capital commitments across its pre-seed and opportunity-style “Series B and beyond” funds. Including LinkedIn, PayPal, Supercell, Transferwise, MongoDB, Wayfair.
Sure, FJ Labs has become less of a “lab” and more of a traditional venture over time, but Grinda rejects the comparison.
“We’re a venture fund,” he says, though he insists it does “venture-scale angel investing.” “We don’t lead. We don’t set prices. We don’t take seats on the board. This is because it has exceptional pattern recognition that allows it to make very fast decisions.”
It sounds risky, but FJ Labs has results to show for its approach. For example, among our many investments, we have made early bets on organizations that have ballooned over time, such as Alibaba, Coupang, Flexport, and Delivery Hero.
Focusing on marketplaces and network effects businesses that Glinda is familiar with certainly helps. So is the portfolio that FJ Labs has built over time. This includes 900 active investments as part of what Grinda describes as “the world’s largest market portfolio.” (Pitchbook data confirms FJ Labs was the world’s most active venture company in the third quarter of last year.)
It all stands on its own like a flywheel of its own, suggests Grinda, pointing to the company’s deal flow to underscore the point. Through his 900 companies at FJ Labs, he’s connected to about 2,000 founders who “come back for their next company and send their friends and employees,” Grinda said. says.
Similarly, FJ Labs is “a source of differentiated deal flow for VCs, so VCs invite us to do their deals,” he says.
If all goes according to plan, FJ Labs will be even bigger. “The idea is to create an institution that will become a legacy and will exist for ‘decades,'” Glinda said.
It’s hard to imagine that Glinda, who is famous for traveling the world, could stay so involved in venture capital. But he says to believe it. There are currently three problems that FJ Labs would like to help solve, but they are also profitable, and none of them are small. The first is inequality of opportunity, the second is climate change, and the third is the “physical and mental health crisis.”
One related bet is User Interviews, a seven-year-old Brooklyn startup that helps user experience researchers source research participants across a variety of demographic and behavioral criteria. (TechCrunch covered the latest funding here.)
Other startups don’t easily fit into one of these three buckets. Gravitics is a year-old Seattle startup that developed living and working modules for space travel and announced a $20 million round last year. (We covered that round, too.)
Apparently, if you have a web3 angle, that works too. Just yesterday, the London-based year-old blockchain infrastructure company announced it had raised $8.5 million in seed funding to build a private sharding capability for its blockchain network, with FJ Labs Participated.
Many of the company’s bets boil down to what FJ Labs’ view of what the future of humanity might look like gives Grinda. “We have vision for the future of food, cars, real estate, jobs…we’re trying to solve world problems. We’re also thesis-driven.”
You can learn more about what FJ Labs is funding and why, from an article we published last month before FJ Labs closed its latest funding.