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Atelier Ventures wants to bring more influencers and creators into venture capital

February 17, 2021, 3:22 PM UTC

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Happy Wednesday, Term Sheet readers.

Perhaps you’ve noticed a trend recently while reading through the deals section of this newsletter.

Social media stars are the new investors on the block. Just on Tuesday, YouTube star Logan Paul participated in a deal with the Chernin Group to raise $40 million for Goldin Auctions, a place for auctioning collectibles. In December, Charli D’Amelio participated in a round that raised $50 million for banking startup Step. And late last year, the TikTok stars known as the “Sway House Boys” invested in fintech Lendtable

Now a newly launched seed fund is hoping to bring even more creators into the venture capital space. 

On Monday, Atelier Ventures, a seed fund helmed by former Andreessen Horowitz Partner Li Jin, launched its $13 million debut fund. Having written extensively about this rising class effectively launching small businesses off of their own brands, Jin plans to be what she calls “the connective tissue” between creators and the broader venture industry.

“It used to be the case that creators were social capital rich but money poor—but they are now creating more capital to deploy. They are cognisant of the need to diversify their own financial lives because the algorithm could change at any moment,” she told Term Sheet over the phone Tuesday.

The story of Lendtable is a prime example of why startups may want influencers as investors: According to Business Insider, the Sway Boys invested just $7,500 in Lendtable—a small amount. But the social media stars’ promotion of the product on their accounts led to a notable spike in signups for the fintech.

As Jin puts it: “The startups that have recently pitched me, anecdotally, would rather have folks that are digitally native and have built their following on social media versus a traditional celebrity because TikTok is a huge goldmine for consumer companies.”

But bringing in more creators as investors is just a part of Atelier’s broader thesis. The newfangled fund plans to invest in areas that Jin dubs the “passion economy.” While that does encompass companies that help influencers make a living off their online fame (Atelier-backed Streamloots, for instance, allows viewers to buy interactions—such as playing a GIF on screen—from their favorite streamers), Atelier will seek to also invest in businesses that help artists, newsletter writers, and musicians looking to reach their audiences directly rather than through large publications or record labels. The “passion economy,” in contrast to the gig economy, allows creators to be their own boss and form a direct relationship with the customer.

In a very on-brand move, Jin made the announcement through a newsletter hosted on Substack, one of Atelier’s investments. Lenny’s Newsletter, written by Lenny Rachitsky, defines the passion economy as “an entirely new economic movement that empowers individuals over institutions.”

Take Atelier’s investment in Dumpling, a startup that is billed as a hopeful rival to Instacart. While consumers who use Instacart to deliver their groceries may have little connection to the gig worker who dropped off their goods, Dumpling seeks to make that worker the owner of their own grocery delivery service. And other venture capital investors have added millions of dollars to creator startups such as Patreon and Cameo.

Still, the question remains for consumer-focused startups as they bring in such creators as smaller investors: Fame comes and goes. What is the long-term value in having influencers as investors?

“If their relevance fades, then the question is what can they offer to startups if they are no longer famous? That is going to separate the best creator investors from the not-great investors,” says Jin.

So for now, you can dismiss the TikTokers and influencers all you want, but they are still coming to roost.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified a company as Lootstream. The company is called Streamloots.


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-, a Seattle-based maker of goal-setting software for businesses, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Greenoaks Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Tiger Global, Madrona Venture Group, Accel, Addition Ventures, Founders’ Co-Op, and Vulcan Capital. 

- Metropolis, a Los Angeles-based startup focused on valet parking, raised $41 million in Series A funding. 3L led the round and was joined by investors including Starwood Capital, Dick Costolo of 01 Advisors, Dragoneer, Slow Ventures, Zigg Capital, DivcoWest, RXR (Scott Rechler), and CEO of Sidewalk Labs Dan Doctoroff.

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- Nomad, a Denver-based real estate platform for guaranteed rent, raised a $2 million seed round. Investors included Range Ventures, Kickstart, Peterson Ventures, 8Z and Planomatic.

- YBVR, a San Jose, Calif.-based virtual reality video distribution company, raised $1.5 million in pre-Series A funding. Investors include Verizon Ventures, Telefonica’s Wayra and Tech Coast Angels.

- Matillion, an U.K.-based cloud data integration platform, raised $100 million in Series D equity and debt. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round and was joined by those including Battery Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank UK Branch. The company declined to disclose the balance of debt vs. equity.


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- New Mountain Capital acquired Aegion Corporation (Nasdaq: AEGN), a St. Louis-based leading provider of infrastructure maintenance, rehabilitation and protection solutions, for about $963 million. 

- American Industrial Partners agreed to acquire a majority interest in the High Pressure Solutions Segment of Ingersoll Rand for $300 million. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

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- CELLINK agreed to acquire Ginolis, a Finnish robotics and diagnostic automation company, for €70 million ($85 million) in cash and stock. Verso Ventures backed Ginolis.

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- EW GROUP acquired Hygiena, a Camarillo, Calif.-based food safety and environmental testing solutions., from Warburg Pincus. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Ad Practitioners acquired Knoq, a Boston-based maker of a door-to-door sales platform. Knoq has been backed by Haystack VC, Initialized Capital, Liquid2, Fathom Capital, and Background Capital.


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- Cricut, a South Jordan, Ut.-based maker of design apps and crafting machines, filed to raise $100 million. Read more.


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- Vector Acquisition II, a SPAC formed by Vector Capital seeking a target in the tech industry, filed to raise $400 million. Read more.

- M3-Brigade Acquisition II, a SPAC by Mohsin Meghji, filed to raise $300 million. Read more.

- Colonnade Acquisition II, a SPAC by executives at Colonnade Properties and Trafelet and  Company, filed to raise $250 million. Read more.

- Spring Valley Acquisition II, a SPAC by Pearl Energy Investment Management looking to invest in the sustainability industry, filed to raise $200 million. Read more.

- Traveloka, a Southeast Asia-based online travel startup, is seeking to go public via SPAC, per Bloomberg. Its investors include Rocket Internet and Expedia Group. Read more.