Dolby Family Launches Institutional Venture Fund

The family behind Dolby Laboratories, which has had a big hand in developing the technologies behind the images and sound used in films, is launching a new institutional venture fund.

Formed by Dolby family scion David Dolby roughly a year after his father died, Dolby Family Ventures is the continuation of the family’s long tradition of working with technology and cultivating young entrepreneurs, the junior Dolby says.

The launch of the San Francisco-based fund institutionalizes the investment work that Dolby had been doing for the past five years — and the work of his father’s lifetime, he says. Joining the team to help Dolby carry out the work is Pascal Levensohn, who previously managed his own, eponymous, firm, but has worked with Dolby on 20 different portfolio companies over the last two years, Dolby says.

“I wear two hats in working with the Dolby family,” Levensohn says. “I’ve been advising them for two-and-a-half years on the existing portfolio and will be investing new capital in new investments as well as follow ons.”

The firm is structured as an evergreen vehicle, using money from the firm’s past exits and from the personal wealth of the family to finance its activities. The plan is to invest $10 million to $20 million per year on an ongoing basis in four-to-seven portfolio companies, with average commitments to each company in a portfolio topping out at approximately $3 million. “We’ll write a $300,000 to $500,000 check in the seed round,” says Levensohn.

The young firm has already seen a pretty nice win with its investment in Basis Science, which was sold to Intel earlier this year.

Dolby Family Investments will concentrate its dealmaking on areas like digital media, cloud services, healthcare, technology services, and drug development, according to Dolby. “Basically intellectual property-driven businesses that engage in a lot of data analytics,” Dolby says of his firm’s interests.

Levensohn and Dolby have come out of the gate signing checks. The firm has five companies in its portfolio already — including the recently exited Basis Science.

Other investments include the direct-to-fan video marketing and commerce company, LittleCast; Beep, audio networking company; the anti-counterfeiting security software developer, Authentic Vision; and a new virtual reality platform company, AltSpaceVR.