The decade-long glut of funding in the venture business is finally getting unwound as LPs get choosier and choosier about which venture funds to keep backing. Meanwhile, venture capitalists slogging it out with the new breed of super angels, striving to get in the hottest deals at remotely reasonable prices would probably argue there’s little room in the market for a new firm either. So it’s not exactly the easiest time to raise a new fund.
Enter Bullpen Capital: A new firm that the super angel elite are welcoming with open arms. Why? It aims fill the hole in the market between angels and VCs.
Of course, some people believe there is no hole. Indeed some VCs are creating seed-programs to compete with angels even more directly.
But Bullpen’s founders Paul Martino, Duncan Davidson and Richard Melmon argue too many startups are having to do what we wrote about Klout doing yesterday. If they want to raise more capital they have to pick between aiming for a quick flip or aiming for a homerun, with few options in between.
Bullpen’s founders argue a lot of startups just aren’t ready after one $1 million-or-so round. Maybe they’ve run through their $1 million seed round only to find they need to pivot (swear jar) or maybe it’ll just take another $1 million to know what they’ve really got. Right now, few firms want to fill that follow-on seed round role. That’s why Martino, Davidson and Melmon call themselves “Bullpen” Capital– in a Valley where everyone is trying to be a starter or a closer, these guys see a big opportunity in pitching relief.
The initial fund will be $50 million, to be closed in two stages. The first stage is closed now, and each of the three partners put in their own money.
We trucked down to Bullpen’s offices on Sand Hill Road to hear more about the new firm. In future segments, we talk to partners about sectors they’ll invest in, and how the Valley’s culture hasn’t changed as much as you’d think over the last thirty or so years.