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Joe Lonsdale, the contentious founder of Palantir, is the controversial leader of Austin-based 8VC, which has raised $880 million for its fifth fund. Lonsdale, who serves as 8VC’s general partner, stated in a blog post that his firm’s mission is “to fix a broken world.”
Lonsdale revealed that 8VC currently manages “over $6 billion in committed capital” and that it plans to invest “at every stage,” in addition to building companies itself. He did not, however, specify which industries the new fund would target or the average check size. He added that there are now more than 60 members of the 8VC team.
According to AustinInno, the fund is reportedly the largest startup venture fund in Texas.
Lonsdale’s post concerning the new fund had a contemplative feel to it. “Our civilization is faced with enormous obstacles, he wrote, and entrepreneurship is also faced with difficulties. But for businesspeople, broken things offer opportunities. And when we look more closely, we notice amazing changes happening all around us. AI is transforming the world both inside and outside of computers, just as genomic engineering and new scientific knowledge is transforming the world of cells, advanced manufacturing is transforming the world of machines, and new business models, incentives, and innovation are transforming how we receive healthcare. A few of our frontiers are listed here.”
Image Credit: 8VC
Over the years, 8VC has made investments in businesses across a range of sectors, including logistics, life sciences, healthcare, IT infrastructure, government and defense, financial services, consumer, and enterprise. It has made about 500 investments overall, according to PitchBook. Asana, Blend, Flexport, hims and hers, Mammoth Biosciences, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company, Qualia, and Wish are a few of its portfolio companies.
Lonsdale has at times gotten more attention for himself than for the companies in his portfolio. His tweets about “woke” tech diversity at the beginning of last year garnered attention and raised quite a few hackles. A breakup with former business partners and a high-profile lawsuit brought by a former Stanford student that was later dropped are two other controversies in which he has been involved.
Furthermore, Lonsdale tweeted in the latter half of 2021 that “any man in an important position who takes 6 months of leave for a newborn…a loser” in reference to Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation, and his paternity leave. He has frequently defended himself against subsequent backlash by claiming that his remarks were misinterpreted or taken out of context.
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Lonsdale spoke with the author of a New Yorker article this month on Austin’s transformation from a liberal stronghold to one that is “closer to libertarianism than to liberalism” about his adopted city, noting that one of its allures is that politics can be discussed in a polite manner there.
When I would disagree with someone in San Francisco, they would say, “You’re an evil person,” Lonsdale is cited as saying. “Therefore, Texas still has a very healthy vibe. I sincerely hope we can maintain the current situation.”
SEC filings state that 8VC closed its last flagship fund in 2021 with $640 million in capital commitments and that it has raised a lot of special-purpose vehicles recently.