GFT Ventures Q2 2022 Update
Welcome to the Q2 2022 newsletter from GFT Ventures! We hope you will benefit from our fund updates and portfolio company highlights, as well as our overall industry observations and thought leadership exchanges. Please feel free to share our newsletter with your colleagues and friends using the “Share” button at the bottom of this post. Any additional questions or comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always visit our GFT Ventures website to learn more about us.
Update on Our Inaugural Fund
We are delighted to share that, following our most recent closing, GFT Fund I is now officially oversubscribed for our original $100M target fundraise! Notwithstanding, due to strong investor demand, we’ve decided to increase our inaugural fund size, and are still accepting additional commitments from both new and existing Limited Partners. Although our final closing will likely occur in the coming months, now would be a good time to connect with us if you still have interest in being part of (or increasing your commitment to) GFT Fund I. As always, we very much appreciate the strong support we’ve received from our investors, partners, colleagues and friends during our launch the GFT Ventures franchise. We are ecosystem builders and supporters at our core, and we couldn’t be more excited by the industry reception we’ve received.
Given the much more challenging macroeconomic environment in which we now find ourselves, a number of you have asked us to explain the exceptionally strong investor interest in our GFT Fund I. We feel the answer is quite simple, and speaks to the fundamental premises upon which we created the GFT franchise. That is — every industry, every vertical and every business model is likely to be influenced (or, disrupted) by modern AI, Data Science and/or Blockchain technologies and platforms. We are just now at the beginning of a multi-decade period, driven by some of the most disruptive technologies we have seen in our lifetimes. And we fully expect these deep technology driven trends to transcend multiple economic cycles.
In fact, history suggests that times like these are ideal for launching new venture funds, especially those driven by experienced managers with discipline and focus. With significant “dry powder” now at our disposal, we are more committed than ever to supporting the most visionary founders committed to solving the world’s hardest frontier technology problems for the largest markets. A more challenging environment presents us with the opportunity to deploy our capital even more carefully, prudently, and at much more attractive valuations, than would have been encountered just a few short months ago. Our timing could not be better!
In the prior quarter (and since our last newsletter), GFT Ventures has closed our investment in Mars Auto (more details below), an autonomous trucking company operating in South Korea and beyond. Our pipeline remains full, and we continue to welcome introductions to, and inquiries from, the best early stage AI, Data Science and Blockchain-related companies seeking capital at reasonable valuations.
Thank you all again for your support and friendship. It means the world to us.
Jeff Herbst and Jay Eum
Founding Managing Partners, GFT Ventures
Featured Portfolio Companies
GFT Ventures led Mars Auto’s $12M Series A Round
What it does:
Mars Auto is an autonomous trucking company primarily leveraging ML/data-driven self-driving technology. Their IP is primarily camera-based, designed to be scalable through machine learning without necessarily requiring GPS, HD maps or LiDAR. Its data-driven self-driving technology is designed to be location agnostic from Day One.
Why we found it exciting:
We were impressed by Ilsu Park (CEO) and Gyuri Im (CTO)’s vision of solving autonomous driving with data. The company has already begun autonomous commercial freight shipping in Korea with a pilot partner (proving 20% higher fuel efficiency compared to average truck drivers!) and its technology can operate under a variety of different weather, freight weight and nighttime shipping conditions. The company is a “one-of-a-kind” in a $30 billion South Korean trucking market, and they plan on expanding into the $680 billion US trucking market where there is room for multiple successful players.
GFT Ventures is thrilled to partner with Mars Auto on their journey to become a leading autonomous trucking company in South Korea and beyond. Read their Series A announcement in the press here (Korean) and here (English).
GFT Ventures and Portfolio Companies in the Spotlight
GFT portfolio company Unblocked launches publicly at Billboard Music Awards
NFT platform Unblocked launches Billboard ChartStars with Pepsi at the Billboard Music Awards on May 15, 2022. Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou hints at the launch on CNBC Tech+ and Pepsi CMO Todd Kaplan discusses the campaign.
GFT Ventures Hosts Global AI Council Gathering
On March 29th, GFT Ventures hosted an intimate gathering of the Global AI Council at the residence of GFT Founding Managing Partner, Jeff Herbst. The AI Council has become an integral part of the Global Corporate Venturing (GCV) network, with an agenda and moderation provided by co-chairs Jeff Herbst and George Hoyem (In-Q-Tel, EVP Investments).
The event, presented by GCV and co-sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), included thought provoking group discussions around AI Enabled Platforms, AI and Digital Health, and AI Privacy. Attendees included AI industry luminaries such as Anima Anandkumar (Caltech Professor and Nvidia AI Research Director), Naveen Rao (founder of Mosaic and Nervana) and Seth Dobrin (Global Chief AI Officer at IBM). Following the formal agenda, an evening reception was held featuring a professional chef cooking, and entertaining guests, using Jeff’s outdoor wood-fired pizza oven. The event (and in particular, the intimate and thoughtful discussion) was extremely well received by all who attended, and will be repeated in the very near future. Some pictures, as well as a more detailed agenda from the meeting, can be seen below.
Special thanks to Christina Riboldi and Janice Mawson of GCV, as well as Gerald Brady of SVB, for working closely with us to produce and sponsor this fantastic event!