Out Of The Blocks

Out Of The Blocks

 



Back in February, I wrote that we were at the starting line of Seven Seven Six, with the ambitious goal of starting a different kind of venture firm—built on software and created with intention. Today, I’m proud to announce the oversubscribed close of our first $150 million core fund.

The last year was one of the most transformative years of my life, much of which was set in motion by the tragic and despicable murder of George Floyd.

Like many people, it forced necessary introspection and led me to identify how I could be a better person, husband and father. In the immediate aftermath, I made a series of life-altering decisions that started with stepping down from the board of Reddit, in protest. This past weekend marks the one year anniversary of my resignation. That decision had a ripple effect I never could’ve expected, but I’m proud to see some of the changes it spurred, especially as it relates to banning online hate communities and board diversification. While there have been advancements in the last year, there is still so much work to do and I’m far from done.

The drive to finish that work is what led me to start Seven Seven Six.

I’ve surrounded myself with people who have a shared vision and who challenge me daily. While we’re a small but mighty team, I’m tremendously proud of what we’ve achieved in such a short amount of time.

Our Operators in Residence Program sources the best operating partners by using an open application process that looks for not just experience, but also potential. Seven Seven Six founders are already raving about the quality of advice and support from our Operators.

We launched a 2% Growth and Caregiving Commitment, which affirms our investment in our founders–not just their companies, but in their well-being. If we take care of our founders, we believe they’ll take care of their people, and we’ll all be more successful as a result.

I’m delighted to be creating software again. Our firm is powered by an operating system I’ve named Cerebro. You’ve probably seen me tweeting out cryptic demo videos so far, but at six months in, we’re six months in, it’s where our team does the bulk of their work, asynchronously. Our founders all have a login as well, which plugs them into a searchable database of over 40,000 contacts where they’re one-click away from an introduction. We believe that software should do all the work of a venture firm that humans aren’t amazing at, like data recall. Tools like Cerebro allows us to spend our time working as a team, with founders, or with LPs doing creative, strategic, and empathetic work.

Finally, we want to generate outsized returns and do so for an investor base that is a reflection of the United States, so we set out to get 50% female, and 15% Black or Indigenous people as LPs. This was much harder than I expected, but it was well worth the effort. In the process, we met scores of very motivated investors—from university endowments to individuals—who were excited by our ambition, many of whom in 10 years of fundraising, I’d never met and probably never would’ve met.

As investors, we started winning our first deals last summer—before we even had a fund raised—and will always be grateful to those founders for seeing our vision so early. You can find them all here. New companies are announced on our twitter @SevenSevenSix.

This is by no means the finish line — if anything, we’ve only just left the starting blocks. There is much more to come from Seven Seven Six and I’m grateful to everyone who has helped get us to this point.

This Is the Starting Line

2020 was a paradoxical year. On one hand, it was the hardest year, for most Americans, in a very long time. On the other, it was one of the best years—for those of us plugged in to tech—because 5 years of adoption happened in 5 months. This paradox is a big part of why I had to start Seven Seven Six. Software and the internet have won, and they will remain undefeated. Today, every industry is still adapting to that new reality. And despite lofty ideals, we have a lot of work to do. Work to make our future all that it can be. Work to make that true for all of us.

I’m incredibly proud of the companies I’ve built and invested in over the last 15 years. But truthfully, none of that was done intentionally. I could have done better. I will do better. And I started taking the steps to make sure that’s true in June of 2020 when I resigned from Reddit and left Initialized, two companies I co-founded and co-led. Now, I’m ready to build something new.

7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣

I named this new firm Seven Seven Six for a simple reason: it’s a reference to 776 B.C.E., the year of the first Olympic Games. The Olympics are the pinnacle of sports and equity—to be an Olympic Champion is the closest thing in any industry to achieving an objective measure of greatness.

The Greeks believed the first Olympics brought the best athletes from all over the world to compete and ultimately determine who was the greatest.

The first ever Olympic Champion was a cook from a nearby village who won a 192-meter footrace.

It’s a great story.

At least until you realize the “known world” at that time was only a small fraction of the global population—millions of great athletes never got an invite. The Greeks simply didn’t know all the other athletes even existed. Worse, the Greeks were missing out on all the greatness right there in their own population because women couldn’t attend (let alone compete).

And so in the interest of capturing the same ideal that fueled the first Olympics, to achieve greatness, but with the perspective to truly embrace equity, Seven Seven Six was born. We went back to the very first starting line to reimagine how to build a firm to attract the best founders and generate the greatest returns—and to do it with intention.

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Celebrating the success I’ve had as an early investor over a dozen now-billion-dollar-startups feels like I’m celebrating the cook from the first Olympics. 

Surely there were greater founders, greater businesses, and greater returns that I could have invested in—had I only been more intentional.

Seven Seven Six will be my legacy, and I hope all of you will join me and our team on this journey. We won’t be perfect, but we will keep striving to be better.

Founders: We want to be the greatest investor you’ve ever had.

Investing differently also means building our own software because no industry is immune to its impact. My favorite work has always been creating products, and I’m delighted we’re regularly shipping software to help our team, our founders, and our partners to be even more effective and more efficient. We’ll be doing our best to build in public along the way, too, so please follow us on Twitter.

Finally, thank you to Lissie Garvin and Katelin Holloway for joining me on this starting line. We’re announcing three new teammates, our 2021 Operators in Residence, this week.