Venture

Boston-Based Underscore VC Closes $117 Million For Second Fund

A few days ago, Crunchbase News took a look at two regulatory filings for Boston-area VC firms that raised their largest funds to date. This afternoon brings a third fund into this week’s mix of Boston-related news.

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A filing posted this afternoon shows that Boston-based Underscore VC has raised $116.9 million for its second fund, appropriately called “Underscore.VC Fund II, L.P.” According to Crunchbase data for the fund, its limited partners include the Boston Children’s Hospital, Greenspring Associates, and Henry McCance, a near 50-year veteran venture investor from Greylock Partners.

And just like the funds closed by OpenView and CRV reported on earlier in the week, Underscore VC’s second fund is its largest closed to date. Its first fund, announced in October 2016, was $85 million.

In a post on the firm’s blog announcing the new fund, the firm acknowledges a broad-based strategy to its investments, having invested “across domains including Open Source, AR/VR, AI/ML, eCommerce, MarTech, Cloud Infrastructure, Blockchain and IoT.”

According to Crunchbase data, the fund has led at least eight funding rounds, and the firm said in its announcement that it has over twenty companies in its portfolio. Some investment highlights include:

  • Leading Salsify’s $30 million Series C round. Underscore VC partner Michael Skok told TechCrunch that the firm created a special purpose vehicle to keep investing in Salsify to maintain its pro rata share of the product experience management platform company.
  • Leading the Seed and Series A rounds of CloudZero. In their announcement, the firm said, “We love partnering with these founders from the earliest days. […] When we were introduced to [the founder, Erik Peterson,] and we wrote our first check, he had merely a vision for what is now CloudZero.”
  • Underscore VC participated in the initial coin offering (ICO) for Basis. The crypto startup raised $133 million for a stable-priced cryptocurrency (a so-called “stablecoin”) which Crunchbase News has covered in the past. Skok told Xconomy that although Underscore VC hasn’t had an exit in its portfolio yet, it has generated a financial return from its investment in an ICO; however, he declined to mention which coin offering. Underscore VC hasn’t invested in any other ICOs besides the one from Basis, at least according to Crunchbase data.

The goal of this fund is to be able to build a bridge from seed-stage to early-stage funding for its portfolio companies, which is part of the reason the firm raised more money for this fund. Skok told Xconomy that “most of these funds can’t write the Series A check. Our model does allow us to write that check.”

With a focus on nurturing companies from seedlings into stronger early-stage businesses with firmer footing, a structured approach to community-building, and a loyalty to the Boston metro area (where a plurality of its portfolio companies are based), Underscore VC may not be the biggest or richest firm on the block, but it may be able to punch above its weight.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias