At $3.3 billion, the amount Wal-Mart Stores Inc. paid for Jet.com Inc., the online retailer became the largest venture-backed company at time of exit ever in the New York metropolitan area. But the record-setter had just one local investor that backed it in its early stages: seed firm Primary Venture Partners.
Primary’s general partners, Brad Svrluga and Benjamin Sun, have been investing in New York for a long time, earlier under the High Peaks Venture Partners moniker. Most of their major deals have a New York connection and were sourced locally, including Jet.com; Ticketfly LLC, acquired by Pandora Media Inc. for about $450 million; and even South Korea-based Coupang, valued at $5 billion last year.
It was at a game of pickup basketball open to all New Yorkers in the gym at Stuyvesant High School where Mr. Sun met Bom Kim in 2009, said Mr. Sun. At that time, Mr. Kim, who had just sold a small media company, wanted to start something new. Mr. Sun ended up investing in Mr. Kim’s new e-commerce startup, Coupang, first as an angel investor and then through Primary and is still on the company’s board.
Jet.com and Coupang together showcase Primary’s eye for New York startup talent, but also the firm’s service approach to venture capital.
Primary—which closed a $60 million pool last year—hopes to demonstrate that even small funds can offer portfolio companies a bevy of services, from recruiting to business development, that have become par for the course at large firms, especially at West Coast VCs such as Andreessen Horowitz.