Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Atlas Venture?
Atlas Venture is an early stage investment firm dedicated to financing disruptive innovation in Life Sciences and Technology. We are a tight team of investors and company builders operating out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Most of our investment activity is at the earliest stage of a company’s life and we sometimes co-create projects with our entrepreneurs. We have retained a nimble and pragmatic approach while backing over 350 startups since the formation of our first fund in 1986.
What sectors are you active in?
We invest in Life Sciences and Technology. In Life Sciences we are best known for our work in discovering and developing therapeutics, but we also actively invest in personalized medicine, diagnostics and medical devices. We have been pioneering investors over the years in a number of segments including functional genomics with Exelexis, novel biologics with Adnexus and Morphosys, RNAi with Alnylam, and biosimilars with Momenta, to name a few. In Technology we have backed diverse plays, from consumer facing disruptors such as DailyMotion, creative SaaS businesses like Globoforce or Veracode and ambitious silicon plays like Icera Semiconductor.
We fundamentally believe that great entrepreneurs are best at finding great areas for innovation and are willing to take chances on new market segments.
What is your preferred investment stage?
The bulk of our investments occur at the earliest stages. We regularly play an active role in company formation, as with Veracode, where we took a leading role in negotiating the spinout of the @stake team from Symantec and the acquisition of key IP assets from macrovision, or with Zafgen, where we seeded and incubated the company for 18 months in our offices after negotiating with Children’s Hospital to license the intellectual property.
We will invest in growth-stage businesses where we have specific expertise or knowledge and provide acceleration capital, although our core focus is on early stage investing.
Do you have a geographic focus?
We embrace globalization as a significant trend in entrepreneurship and maintain a global view on investment opportunities. We actively encourage our companies to expand internationally, such as with Moo, our London based on-demand printing business that we encouraged to set up operations in Providence, RI to support its US development.
We have investments all over the United States and Europe, our core focus areas. We pride ourselves on being multi-cultural and highly adaptive.
Do you lead?
Definitely. We usually lead or co-lead the investment rounds we participate in and take board seats. In fact, we want to be a partner you can rely on. We make sure both our money and reputation are on the line in ensuring your success. We are also comfortable being the primary initial backer of a company, as with our drug discovery start-up Nimbus.
How much do you invest?
We’re flexible on investment size depending on the needs of the business. Some of our investments are as little as as $100K but we can also follow our portfolio companies through IPO, as in the case of Isilon, where we invested $24M for 24% of the business. Our typical initial investment ranges from $500K to $5M.
Describe your current fund
We closed our most recent fund, Atlas Venture IX, at $265 million in April 2013.
What is your investment process?
The benefit of a tight partnership is that our investment process is extremely straightforward. A presentation to the Technology or Life Sciences team is the only formal step required in our process.
Do you have a seed program?
Yes. We have been active seed investors for years. In fact, over 1/3 of our investments over the past five years were initially seeded by Atlas. We anticipate allocating meaningful capital and bandwidth to seeding the next big ideas and backing the next great entrepreneurs. In situations where we are the lead investor, we treat our seed investments consistently to our series A or late stage participations. We expect to do approximately 20 seed investments over the full investment period of our current fund.
What are you like to work with?
Don’t ask us. Ask our entrepreneurs! Many of our entrepreneurs have worked with us on multiple companies.
How do I get in touch?
The best way to connect with venture capitalists is through existing relationships. Have someone we know and trust (like a lawyer, second time entrepreneur or professor) connect us and vouch for you.
We understand that our networks may not directly overlap. Digging deeper into our networks with LinkedIn and Twitter is a great place to start. You can also find us in person at events in Boston, San Francisco, New York, London and elsewhere. We try hard to be available, so if all else fails reach out directly. Our emails begin and end with the letters you’d expect.