Jul 26 • 46M

Tomasz Tunguz of Theory Ventures on strategically raising a fund in a downturn, Why Firms Need a Business Model, and different views on portfolio construction

Episode 112

Open in playerListen on);

Appears in this episode

Samir Kaji
Venture Unlocked is the playbook for starting, operating, & scaling a successful venture capital firm. Samir Kaji, Host of Venture Unlocked has +20-years of experience assisting & advising startups and venture firms. Listen for VC fund guidance.
Episode details

Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

On this week’s show we’re excited to have Tomasz Tunguz, Founder of newly formed Theory Ventures. Tomasz spent nearly 15 years at Redpoint Ventures, before recently spinning out to start Theory Ventures. Earlier this year, Theory closed a $230MM fund to back early stage entrepreneurs.

Those who have followed Tomasz’s writing, know that he is incredibly analytical and thoughtful in his approach to business. This conversation was no different as we went deep into topics such as portfolio construction theory, business models in VC, and how to be strategic in raising a VC fund. 

About Tomas Tunguz:
Tomasz Tunguz is a Founder and Managing Director at Theory Ventures. He is an active blogger at tomtunguz.com and is co-author of Winning with Data which explores the cultural changes big data brings to business and shows you how to adapt your organization to leverage data to maximum effect.

Before founding Theory, Tomasz was Managing Director at Redpoint Ventures, where he backed many early-stage SaaS, data, and infrastructure founders in his 14-year tenure. He began his career as the product manager for Google’s AdSense social-media products and AdSense internationalization.

Tomasz attended Dartmouth College and graduated with a BA in mechanical engineering, a BE in machine learning, and a master’s degree in engineering management.

In this episode we discuss:

(01:42) Why Tomasz joined Redpoint
(03:01) The decision to start Theory Ventures
(06:32) Raising his first fund during one of the most difficult raise environments in recent history
(07:45) What his plan was with the raise
(10:47) How Tomasz created and sustained momentum during his raise
(16:12) Common objections from LPs and how he overcame them
(19:49) What it means for a venture firm to have a business model
(23:00) How Theory’s thesis addresses the problem of multiples in the venture market
(24:59) Winning deals without paying premiums
(26:13) Why the 3x net returns on venture needs to increase to be competitive
(27:40) Getting comfortable with a smaller portfolio
(31:29) Tomasz’s mental model of picking and diligence with a smaller portfolio
(34:30) Qualitative signs he looks for in founders and companies
(38:19) Why Tomasz embraces the emerging manager label
(39:30) What the next decade of venture looks like
(42:07) The best career advice he’s received

I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Tomasz. Follow me @SamirKaji and give me your insights and questions with the hashtag #ventureunlocked. If you’d like to be considered as a guest or have someone you’d like to hear from (GP or LP), drop me a direct message on Twitter.

Podcast Production support provided by Agent Bee