Relay Ventures, a 10-year-old, Toronto- and Menlo Park-based early-stage venture firm, has closed its third fund with $150 million in commitments. It had closed its previous fund with the same amount in 2012.
You might remember Relay was once known as ATP Capital and oversaw three other brands: JLA Ventures, Clairmont Capital, and BlackBerry Partners Fund.
The firm is also known in venture circles for its longstanding “mobile only” approach — even as mobile has come to mean everything to the firm from consumer healthcare, digital education, commerce, Internet of Things and connected cars.
Whatever its strategy, its investors — most of them in Canada, where the firm got its start and where Relay continues to invest, as well as in the U.S. — like what they’re seeing. Managing partner Kevin Talbot says three-quarters of its limited partners returned from its last fund.
Another highlight that Talbot is proud of: with $670 million under management, Relay is now the largest venture fund manager in Canada, he says.
Like plenty of investors in both countries, Relay has a lot promising portfolio companies yet to exit. Among them Toronto-based Ecobee, which makes Wi-Fi enabled smart thermostats for residential and commercial applications and has Nest in its sights. The company has raised roughly $50 million from investors; it hasn’t disclosed its valuation. Another interesting bet: PubNub, a San Francisco startup that has built a data network focused on messaging for apps, IoT hardware and other low-latency services. The company has raised $46 million to date.
Relay has also seem some exits, including the sale of Achievers, a 20-year-old maker of employee engagement software that sold last year for $110 million to publicly traded Blackhawk Network; the ad tech company Millennial Media, which slipped in value following a 2012 IPO and was acquired last year by (TechCrunch parent) AOL; the smart calendar startup Tempo, acquired by Salesforce; and the video ad company mDialogue, acquired by Google.
Relay has already begun investing its new fund. Some of its newest bets include British Columbia-based FreshGrade, which provides classroom communication and assessments for K-12 education; 7shifts, a Saskatoon-based startup that makes workforce scheduling software for the restaurant industry; and the 10-month-old, Montreal-based messaging and bot company Automat.ai.
Pictured, left to right: Firm cofounders John Albright and Kevin Talbot.