DCVC To Raise $250 Million For Bio-Focused Fund, Incorporating Monsanto Leadership

Many large, historically tech-focused venture capital firms have expanded into life sciences investing, often by raising bio-focused funds.

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Data Collective, which often goes by its initialism DCVC, appears to be the latest in this trend. According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Data Collective is set to raise up to $250 million for a new fund, “DCVC Bio, L.P.” No capital has yet been raised.

Who Is Involved

Listed on the paperwork are the following partners:

  • Matt Ocko, a co-founder and managing partner of DCVC.
  • Zachary Bogue, a co-founder and managing partner of DCVC.
  • John Hamer, formerly the managing director at Monsanto Growth Ventures.
  • Kiersten Stead, formerly an investment director at Monsanto Growth Ventures.

The addition of Hamer and Stead to DCVC’s collective of fund managers is one of opportunity and timing. Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV), the corporate investment fund of the somewhat controversial agribusiness giant, is in a state of transition.

Hamer and Stead were listed as the only investment directors listed on MGV’s website, and they’ve now joined DCVC. Ryan Rakestraw, who was listed as a principal with MGV on Crunchbase, joined Temasek Holdings as an associate director of the Singaporean firm’s agriculture and food investment efforts in March, according to his Linkedin profile.

A statement from a Monsanto spokesperson said that Hamer and Stead will continue to advise MGV “to ensure a smooth transition.” They added, “We have initiated an internal and external search to backfill these roles. [Monsanto’s] Technology Strategy & Investments Lead, Bob McCarroll, has been a member of the extended MGV leadership team over the last year and will oversee this transition.”

A Link In The Recent Past

DCVC is no stranger to investing in life sciences and related companies or funds. For example, in 2017, DCVC partnered with SyntBioBeta founder Dr. John Cumbers to fund synthetic biology companies.

Crunchbase data suggests that the firm has over two dozen companies in its portfolio involved in the sector. Some highlights include:

  • Ginkgo Bioworks: A Boston-based company that designs custom microbes for clients. Ginkgo Bioworks has raised $429.12 million in equity funding.
  • Zymergen: A data-driven platform that helps to develop novel molecules or improving extant material. The company has raised approximately $174 million in venture funding to date.
  • Freenome: This San Francisco company uses blood tests to detect indicators of cancer. Freenome has raised $77.55 million in venture funding to date.
  • Recursion Pharmaceuticals: Recursion Pharmaceuticals is a drug discovery system that uses artificial intelligence and automation to accelerate the process. The company has raised $75.35 million in equity funding to date.

But DCVC and Monsanto do have some overlap via a recent deal. Monsanto Growth Ventures led the $45 million Series A round raised by Atomwise, another AI-assisted drug discovery platform. Among other participating investors in that round was Data Collective. Kiersten Stead, now a partner in DCVC Bio, was the investment partner representing MGV in Atomwise’s round.

There’s no way for sure to say whether the co-investment between DCVC and Monsanto Growth Ventures is connected, in a causal way, to Stead and Hamer joining Data Collective. But the recency of the collaboration and coincident exit of other MGV employees is intriguing, if strictly circumstantial context.

Crunchbase News reached out to DCVC for comment. The organization did not respond prior to publication.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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