Austin has made headlines over the past year for a number of reasons: It’s home to Oracle’s new headquarters. Tesla is building a massive gigafactory in the Texas capital. Most tech workers are moving out of the Bay Area to set up shop in Austin, raising home prices.
It’s not only tech workers. A few venture capitalists are based in Austin. Joe Lonsdale (Breyer Capital) and Joe Breyer, co-founder of Palantir, have both set up offices there. Lonsdale stated last year that he would be moving 8VC from Silicon Valley to Austin.
I don’t think everyone should be moving to Austin. It’s not right for everybody, but it is right for me.”
The latest VC to call Austin home is Geoff Lewis, founder and managing partner of Bedrock Capital, a 4-year-old early-stage venture capital firm with $1 billion in assets under management. Lewis began his investment career with Founders Fund where he served as a partner for many years. Lyft and Nubank are just a few of the companies where he has been a board member.
Lewis was also involved in early investments in Wish and Upstart as well as ClearCo, ClearCo, Flock Safety, Canva, Rippling and Canva. His popularity of the term “narrative violations” is widely attributed to him. This refers to promising companies who are not in line with mainstream narratives and are therefore overlooked or undervalued.
The investor made the decision to move to Austin because he was disillusioned by Silicon Valley’s inability focus on real-world issues and its continued neglect.
In a Medium post, Lewis said he was first introduced to Austin after backing Workrise (formerly called RigUp), a marketplace for skilled trade workers. He was actually the first investor in seed capital eight years back and has invested eight times more. Today, Workrise is valued at nearly $3 billion.
Lewis stated that he found the company appealing not only because of its “imminent” potential, but because it is “much more interested in real people and real places then Silicon Valley’s behemoths.”
Lewis wrote, “Put simply it is a better technology company.” It was my quest for a more humane type of technological innovation which brought me to Texas. Although I have lived and worked on Silicon Valley’s coasts, I never felt the need to be there. I was not born rich and didn’t attend Stanford.
TechCrunch spoke with Lewis about his decision to relocate his company to Austin and his thoughts on Silicon Valley’s “bubble” status. (Spoiler Alert: They may not be very popular among many! How he intends to invest more in Texas’ startup ecosystem.
The interview was edited to be clear and concise.
It is my understanding that you were born in Canada. What was your first experience in the technology industry?
My entrepreneurial journey began as an individual, when I founded Topguest SaaS in the travel industry. The business was founded in New York City and I moved my entire team to San Francisco in 2009. From 2009 to 2021, I spent the majority of my professional life bouncing around between New York City and SF. It was an acceptable outcome that we sold the company in 2011. In 2012 I started Founders Fund, and I fell in love investing. It was a wonderful experience and I had a unique trajectory. 2012 was a fantastic year to be a young VC here in San Francisco. My focus was on marketplaces. I assisted Canva and Lyft early. Also, I was responsible for the first Fintech Investment in Latin America by Nubank. The company is now worth $30 billion.
Growing up in a very poor household, I realized that I was not well-equipped to be a VC. I decided to try to return to my entrepreneurial roots. We founded Bedrock late 2017, So we founded Bedrock in late 2017. Cameo is a well-known company, and we were among the first investors.
In the beginning, you chose New York to be your base for Bedrock. Why?
Since I lived in both SF and NYC while I worked at Founders Fund, I felt like a kid from Calgary. I wanted to be close to the ocean and the heart of all the action. We decided to headquarter Bedrock New York in 2017, as we felt Silicon Valley was getting a lot too self-referential. New York is a smaller town than other places, so we chose to have our headquarters there. However, we also invested and continue investing in all over the United States and the globe. In the beginning, we invested in WordPress. Later on, we also made investments in Argyle School and Lambda School.
Publiated at Wed 18 August 2021 21.35:29 +0000