Founders Pledge launches VC arm, Pledge Ventures, to create new ‘flywheel’ in philanthropy


Founders Pledge is a London-based charitable initiative, where entrepreneurs enter a legally binding commitment to donate a portion of their personal proceeds on liquidity to charity when they exit.

Launched all the way back in 2015 the initiative was designed to help social entrepreneurs build and scale their efforts.

The minimum commitment for entrepreneurs is 2% of their liquidity event, though reportedly, on average entrepreneurs commit around 7%.

Notable members of Founders Pledge include Niklas Adalberth, Founder of Klarna and Norrsken Foundation, Eric Wahlforss, former founder of SoundCloud and Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of Google DeepMind. The 1800 Founders Pledge member companies include Snyk, Front, and Alan, alongside rising stars Ledgy, Tessian, and Otrium.

Starting in London it now has offices in Berlin, New York and San Francisco. and has partnered with Y Combinator.

It’s now creating a new initiative that will, it hopes, supercharge ‘fo good project in a new way.

Although Pledge Ventures was soft-launched last year, it’s now de-cloaking its model and the first close of its fund.

Pledge Ventures will be a new ‘rules-based’ venture fund designed to invest in high-growth technology companies whose founders have ALSO committed to philanthropy via Founders Pledge. In other words, creating a fly-wheel effect.

The first close stands at $38 million and the plans to close further rounds.

The fund will aim to drive returns for investors while, at the same time, supporting the nonprofit mission of Founders Pledge. Here’s how it will operate: It will donate 85% of carried interest and up to 50% of management fees to the charity. This, says the organization, will further fund the operations of Founders Pledge, build up a long-term capital endowment, and, as it says “scale its impact”.

Pledge Ventures will invest in late-stage rounds of high-growth technology companies raising over $20 million in a Series B or later round, where a top tier fund is participating.

Founders Pledge founder David Goldberg told me on a call: “We only invest Series B plus, only in founders pledge members, and only with top tier VCs participating in the rounds. It’s algorithmic investment, basically. So we don’t make judgement calls about what’s good or not. We invest in every founders pledge signatory that’s raising 20 million or more in a series B or later with a top tier VC participating. We can participate in these very hot, very oversubscribed rounds that are inaccessible to everyone else, because of the alignment that the fund has with the key decision maker of the company. So we’re gonna invest in very, very hot rounds where the returns accrue to charity.

Alos on the Pledge Ventures team will be David Goldberg (CEO at Founders Pledge, Partner at Pledge Ventures) and Niki Buys (Chief of Staff at Founders Pledge, Operations Director at Pledge Ventures), and the founding team are supported by European VC fund Headline Ventures.

In a statement, Pledge Ventures Managing Director, Ben Gammon, said: “The enthusiasm for the concept has been overwhelming. Exceeding our target raise in the current environment is a testament to the belief that our LPs have in Pledge Ventures’ innovative approach and the Founders Pledge community’s commitment to driving positive change.”

Andreas Haug, Founding Partner of Headline Ventures, heads up the Pledge Ventures voluntary Investment Committee, alongside Sasha Trower, Jon Koplin, Garth Timoll and Stefan Wiskemann.

Investment Committee Chair, Haug, said: “Pledge Ventures is leading the charge to create a new model for venture capital that not only generates returns for investors, but also contributes to the long-term sustainability of charitable work.”

Limited Partners in Pledge Ventures of course include many members of Founders Pledge.

Taavet Hinrikus, Founder of Wise, added: “This group of founders contains some of the most important tech companies of our future. Investing in them gives us a share of their upside and ensures the long term success of Founders Pledge. I’m very excited to anchor this fund.”

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