While web3, the metaverse, and virtual headquarters feel like the loudest features of the “future of work” startup category, Worklife Ventures founder brianne kimmel has a more realistic definition. Solo-GP has spent the past few years backing businesses that will help modern workers, from virtual workspaces to email tools to a video chat platform that hopes to feel more human than Zoom.
“We want to be very conscious and intentional that we want to create software for the average person or software that allows more access to meaningful ways to make money,” he said. “I think in the current state, the metaverse and even web3, to a large extent, is still not accessible.” WorkLife invests in web3 companies, but only when the company has a strong stance on education or serves people beyond those who work in technology, she said.
It’s a prospect that your own investors believe enough to dole out more money behind your efforts. Kimmel tells TechCrunch that he raised $35 million for his second future-work-focused fund, almost half of what he originally targeted, according to SEC filings that have since been deleted. When asked about the gap, the investor, taking notes of Sequoia’s new structure, said it will eventually launch a structure that will allow WorkLife to continually raise funds and scale total assets through smaller funds, SPVs and an entity. perennial. Still, today’s stretch marks a second chapter for WorkLife, one that comes in the midst of a still ongoing pandemic.
Kimmel first launched WorkLife Ventures in 2019, with a $5 million seed fund backed by the likes of Marc Andreessen, Garry Tan, Alexis Ohanian, NFX, Slow Ventures, and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan. At the time, Kimmel was one of the first solo GPs to burst onto the scene, also joined by Soona Amhaz of Volt Capital, Shruti Gandhi of Array Ventures, and more recently, Katie Haun of Haun Ventures and Lolita Taub of Ganas. Ventures.
At the launch, WorkLife said that 40% of the new fund’s offerings will come from the SaaS School, a biannual workshop for entrepreneurs that Kimmel founded while at Zendesk. Now, it appears that Kimmel is taking a more expansive approach. She says that WorkLife has already written five checks from the new funds with an average check size of $2 million and an after-money valuation of $20 million.
The first WorkLife fund had an original target check size of around $150,000 per start. That target would have given WorkLife room for about 33 deals. Fast forward, Fund I backed 97 companies, presumably with SPVs and smaller checks. All portfolio companies have raised follow-on capital from other companies.
The firm doesn’t track specific numbers on diversity, but says they often write the first checks for operators leaving tech companies and starting their first companies. All but one of Kimmel’s investments have had a female founder, something he wants to take a “stronger stance to guarantee” in the second fund. There’s also a huge focus on supporting immigrants, something Kimmel, a Ukrainian-American, says has remained constant since the company’s debut.
WorkLife’s performance has been largely driven by a select group of portfolio unicorns, including Deel, Weblow, Hopin, Tonal, Clubhouse, Pipe and Public.
Still, despite the pandemic’s disruption to the way we work, some companies that thrived during the first two years of distributed work have faced corrections. WorkLife invested in Hopin, for example, one of its most successful ventures that recently laid off 12% of its staff.
Kimmel spoke about the layoffs saying “those are very natural growing pains that occur over the course of a company’s history. Something surprising that many outsiders forget is the fact that the growth from zero to $100 million in ARR was compressed in two years.” He noted that Hopin’s chief business officer, Armando Mann, has played a major role in hiring other executives to manage growth.
As for Clubhouse, another WorkLife portfolio company, growth has been muted. About a year after first raising capital, Clubhouse skyrocketed to a $4 billion valuation and achieved mass-market virality. The company then sparingly faced problems, especially around the proliferation of an anti-Semitic room. As the world has opened up, download growth has also slowed.
“Specifically with Clubhouse, scaling any social network is incredibly difficult,” Kimmel said. “I think platforms like Twitter, where you already have distribution, is where you’re most likely to see the contribution rate from users being much higher.” That said, Kimmel noted that WorkLife has invested in Flow Club, a productivity-focused social media app, and Moment House, a live media platform for musicians.
With new millions behind Kimmel, the remote work category will get an appreciated slice of focus and reality.