Aydin Senkut, founder of Felicis Ventures, has an enviable track record. Founded in late 2005, Felicis has made roughly 60 investments, with 16 successful exits, including Mint, Tapulous and Aardvark. As anyone in the investment community will tell you, that’s not a shabby hit rate.
Senkut, a former senior manager at Google, is getting ready to deploy even more capital, with the recent birth of Felicis’ first institutional fund. The $40 million war chest was 33% oversubscribed and includes institutional investors like Flag Capital and Weathergage Capital and other notable names, like Peter Thiel and Joshua Schachter. So what is Senkut buying? The super angel investor recently dropped by TechCrunch TV to share his playbook. Video above.
Broadly speaking, Felicis is still looking for seed and early stage consumer internet and mobile companies, but within that category there are a handful of theories driving Senkut’s investment strategy.
“Right now we are thinking in terms of three different groups, the first group is horizontally, we’re trying to make more investments in mobile, e-commerce and enterprise areas, we do think that these areas are kind of having an interesting comeback and are likely to produce great companies. We are also investing in internet and mobile companies in four verticals that are huge markets, education, health care, personalized medicine and energy conservation, again we’re not looking for capital intensive companies in these sectors but we’re looking for internet and mobile applications that target particularly these huge markets where we fell really large companies can be built. We also think of data as an important play. So there was an interesting quote this year in the Economist that said businesses are no longer about capital labor, its about capital labor and data. We’re seeing a new generation of companies that turn data into intelligence and make that actionable.”
Senkut is hungry to hunt down the next great mobile company, which, he claims, does not exist yet: “What we do think though is that the large mobile company of the future is not created yet, we think it’s more likely that they will be using a subscription revenue model. It also will be in an area that people might not expect today but we think will be really interesting tomorrow.” That area may be personal health care. During our off and on camera interviews, Senkut seemed particularly fascinated by the idea of a mobile consumer health portal that will help users track their well being, diet and exercise habits on the go— a sort of one-stop customized shop to manage personal health.
Beyond health care, Senkut says he’s also looking hard at startups at the intersection of mobile and education (hence their recent investment in Inkling, a company that creates interactive textbooks for the tablets).
In part two of our interview, we discuss the potential of one of his other investments, Groupon, and the classic founder’s conundrum: when it’s appropriate to sell. His advice is based on his theory of the “three hills.” See video below.