Aspect Ventures, an early-stage, San Francisco-based venture firm founded five years ago very notably by two veteran VCs who happen to be women, is splitting up. Co-founders Jennifer Fonstad, formerly of DFJ, and Theresia Gouw, formerly of Accel, are launching separate firms, a source confirms.
The WSJ reported the news earlier today.
Fonstad tells the outlet that the split owes to “different leadership styles and different ways of operating at the portfolio level.”
Going forward, Fonstad plans to operate under the brand Owl Capital and to invest in early-stage deals, including in enterprise software, which has been a major focus area for Aspect, with occasional exceptions, including the newly public consignment business TheRealReal and a direct-to-consumer jewelry brand called Baublebar.
Gouw, who is appearing in several weeks at our TechCrunch Disrupt event to talk about industry trends, declined to comment. But some members of Aspect’s team are joining her at her new firm, aCrew, including Lauren Kolodny, who joined Aspect five years ago and was promoted from principal to partner in 2017; and Vishal Lugani, who joined Aspect as a principal in 2016 after spending 3.5 years as a senior associate with Greycroft and whose LinkedIn bio now identifies him as a founding partner with aCrew.
Team members who are meanwhile joining Fonstad include Chad Herrin, a former SuccessFactors VP who has been a venture partner with Aspect since last year; and Rebecca Hu, who spent a year with Earlybird Venture Capital before joining Aspect roughly one year ago as an investor.
Aspect had raised $150 million for its debut fund and a second $181 million fund at the start of 2018. Gouw, Fonstad and the rest of their Aspect colleagues will continue managing out these investments, though they will be making all new investments out of their respective new vehicles, presumably as they are locking down capital commitments.
According to the WSJ, aCrew is targeting $175 million for its debut fund, while Owl Capital is shooting for $125 million in capital commitments.
The firm is far from the first to split over clashing management styles. Most recently, Social Capital drastically changed shape, with co-founder Mamoon Hamid heading over to help recharge Kleiner Perkins and numerous other early members of the firm leaving to found Tribe Capital.