“In the past we were 500 Startups. In the future we might be 500 VCs.”
That’s Dave McClure, founding partner and Sith Lord behind global seed fund 500 Startups and his growing roster of investment partners. The latest new partner to join the ranks is Edith Yeung, who will be heading up the firm’s latest micro-fund, a $10 million fund it’s calling the 500 Startups Mobile Collective.
The firm passed 500 portfolio companies a while ago, and is now up to about 900 startups that it’s put money into. That’s why it might make sense for McClure to set his heights on a new, even more ambitious target.
And why not? Since being founded in 2010, 500 Startups has quickly ramped up worldwide operations and now has a global team of 44, including 15 who make investments for the firm. According to McClure, investment partners will generally do about 20 deals each year, which has 500 Startups doing more than 300 investments over the last 12 months.
Yeung joins the firm after running marketing and business development for Sequoia-backed mobile browser Dolphin Browser, which has had more than 150 million downloads since being founded. She also co-founded angel investment firm RightVentures, where she made more than 20 investments.
Before finding enlightenment in the startup world, Yeung worked for a ton of old and busted enterprise organizations like Siebel, AMS, AT&T Wireless, Autodesk, Cisco, and Telstra.
Now 500 Startups is handing her the keys to one of its micro-funds, a new $10 million investment vehicle focused on investing in and helping mobile app startups. The goal is to create an ecosystem through which the Mobile Collective can help independent startups get distribution and ramp up monetization.
Yeung won’t be alone in the effort, which is why it’s called a “Mobile Collective.” The fund brings together the talent and insights of a group of partners and advisors that includes Twitter and Square seed investors Greg Kidd, 91 co-founder and mFund founder Joe Chan, former Firefox CEO Jay Sullivan, and Dolphin Browser founder and CEO Yongzhi Yang.
Of course, “investing in mobile” is kind of like “investing in the Internet” — it sounds like an incredibly broad category to single out for a single fund. Yeung says she’s looking to find startups making apps focusing on mobile content, security, productivity, and other functions. Basically everything but mobile gaming.
Since there are already about 3 billion mobile Internet users in the world, 500 believes the category is fertile ground for startups to invest in and that there’s still a lot of growth ahead.
Over the last few years, 500 Startups has launched a number of micro-funds to invest in startups based in certain areas of the world — like the 500 Luchadores fund for Mexico or the 500 Durians fund for investing in Southeast Asia.
Like its other micro-funds, the 500 Startups Mobile Collective is expected to do about 30-50 investments over the life of the fund, which the main fund will occasionally co-invest in. Those co-investments will sometimes happen on the first check, and sometimes on the second, according to McClure.
And who knows, if it works, we’ll probably see even more individual funds pop up within the 500 family to go after verticals like Bitcoin, payments, hardware — the possibilities are endless.
Edit Note: Totally tangentially related, but 500 Startups also has an accelerator and is taking applications for Batch 12.