$425 Million in Fresh Funding to Continue Fueling Our Longstanding Belief in New York City
Two new funds for the next chapter.
Last week at Primary’s fourth NYC Summit, a gathering we’ve hosted since 2017 to convene and promote the amazing New York tech community, I shared with our audience that Primary had raised $425 million for our two new funds, our core fourth seed fund and a third opportunity fund, which we call Select. We’re excited about the news as a firm, but even more so in terms of what it says about the city we love. Compared to our earlier fundraises, this one was pretty quick and painless, especially given today’s more challenging markets. A number of experienced, exceptional LPs from around the country—Boston Children’s Hospital, Sobrato Philanthropies in Silicon Valley, Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, and the LA County retirement system, to name a few—are enthusiastic about getting into our home market. I hope they’re ready for a wild ride.
When Ben and I co-founded Primary in 2015, we brought together our years of involvement in New York City startups with a deep belief that founders here deserved better. Ben experienced that as a founder laughed out of VC meetings because of where his company was based (the Greatest City in the World); I saw it as a long-time seed investor with first hand experience with how frequently my fellow seed investors were offering nothing more than money in their ‘partnerships’ with founders.
So we set out to build something different: A firm that has built a world class team and that with every check we write puts the considerable force of that team into forging partnerships that go to a different level. We set a goal of seeing 100% of seed deals in New York, but investing at a low volume, only working with the founders we find most exceptional. We began to build a team that could truly support them with expertise that helped bridge the gap from scrappy, incomplete pre-seed team to complete, Series A worthy team, operating as true partners along the way. While other firms tepidly hired for generalist, watered down “platform” roles, we built a team of veteran C-Suite executives who bring deep knowledge to all the key challenges of early stage building.
As we were doing all this, New York City startups were busy proving our early hypothesis to be true beyond our wildest dreams. Our case used to be made by pointing to a handful of exceptional examples: dot-com era successes like About.com, DoubleClick, and Hotjobs and later post-crash smash-hits like Jet.com, LearnVest, and Warby Parker. In recent years, those anecdote-driven arguments could be replaced by aggregate numbers worth getting excited about: New York City now sees 70% as many seed deals as the Bay, with a rate of investment that’s growing much quicker. Over the past decade, venture investment into Bay Area companies increased 11x; New York’s increased by more than 22x.
As our friends at Forbes very kindly put it, we’re riding the tech wave we helped start, and now is a thrilling time to be doing it. So what does the future look like as total AUM comes to just shy of a billion and we prepare to begin investing this new, larger pool of capital?
An unwavering commitment to New York
This city is our raison d'etre, and our thesis on supporting founders here was grounded in the ability to build strong networks over time. Our team of 37 full-timers and 20 equity-holding part time advisors and partners now own networks of thousands of high-quality founders, expert advisors, promising employees, and potential clients, and we keep these communities warm with over 250 gatherings a year. So while many of our companies now have teams distributed all over the world and a couple of them aren’t physically located anywhere, we’re still focused on serving the NYC ecosystem first, and doing it better than anyone else.
Deeper channels of specialization
Our people-first approach historically made us less interested in defining sector specialization. As a firm, we want to back the most exciting founders, regardless of what they’re building. But as our investment team ranks swell, we have the luxury of building an investment team that is increasingly specialized. So get to know Cassie Young for SaaS, Jason Shuman for proptech and consumer fintech, Brian Schechter and Tobias Citron in Infrastructure, Abir Liben in crypto, Neera Chatterjee for marketplaces, and Sam Toole and Marisa Bass in healthcare. This crew is all blindingly smart and deeply knowledgeable on the sectors they spend their time in.
Doubling down on Portfolio Impact
Our PI team has been a key piece of our special sauce since the beginning, and as it scales it only gets more impactful. Expect to hear more news from us in the coming year as we expand further on this critical element of our strategy. We’re nowhere close to satisfied with the work we’re doing here.
Staying as hungry as ever
You won’t see us leaning back and resting on laurels. Our team is doggedly committed to challenging what’s possible and beating that by 10x. If that sounds like the type of firm you’d like to work with, we’d love to talk to you.