Harry Stebbings, the well-known podcaster behind ‘20 minute VC’, announced today that he raised a duo of funds for 20VC, the venture capital fund he launched off of his show’s success. The pair of funds – one for early-stage and one for growth stage – total to $140 million in assets under management, plucked from LPs including MIT, Spotify’s founder Daniel Ek and RIT Capital partners.
The total is a 15X increase from Stebbings’ inaugural $8.3 million fund, launched less than a year ago.
Stebbings said that his early-stage fund, 20VC Early, will invest checks between $250,000 to $750,000, while his growth-stage fund, 20VC Explorer, will invest in Series B onwards, with checks between $1 million to $5 million.
The 20VC portfolio already includes a few reported unicorns, including audio app Clubhouse and virtual event organizer Hopin. But, maybe more notable, is what his assumed success – as a 24 year-old who has won a spot in competitive deals and raised a massive venture capital fund – means for the way that tech is evolving.
First, media experience, and the ability to spout useful content in a noisy world, is being increasingly valued as an asset in the modernizing world of VC. This week, Andreessen Horowitz launched Future, a full-fledged media operation that will cover trends in startups and tech.Stebbings’ podcast, which has over 200,000 subscribers and 80 million downloads to date, has cultivated an audience by interviewing tech’s elite, from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone to Slack founder Stewart Butterfield and to A16z’s Angela Strange. Those connections getting leveraged into dollars is a proof point of this growing idea, and sometimes meme, that Twitter followers can help anyone start a rolling fund.
Which brings me to my second point, which is that Stebbings raising such a massive tranche of capital could quiet some of the worry around emerging fund managers being unable to, well, 15X their initial micro-funds. In other words: you might be able to get a few of your buddies to venture to throw some checks in, but how do you get a full endowment to sign on board? Based on recent conversations I’ve had with emerging fund managers, it’s hard to get institutions, the ones with real check-writing power, on board for new funds because they only have so much capital allocated toward venture. It’s even harder for diverse, underrepresented founders. Whether or not Stebbings is a one-off is unclear, but we do at least know that venture backers are viewing his rolodex as a key competitive advantage, and asset in the wild world of investing.
At the end of the day, media is venture and venture is media. Stebbings sits at the intersection of that trend, and with $140 million more, it will be interesting to see what he does next, and if returns come for the ride.