Early next year, we’ll launch Mozilla Ventures, a premier impact venture fund to invest in startups that are pushing the internet – and the tech industry – in a better direction.
Many people complain about today’s tech industry. Some say the Internet has lost its soul. And some even say that it is impossible to do better.
My answer: we will only know if we try, together.
Personally, I believe it’s possible to build successful businesses – and great internet products – that put people before profits. Mozilla proves it. But the same is true for ProtonMail, Hugging Face, Kickstarter and a good number of others. All create products and technologies that respect users and make the Internet a healthier place.
I believe that, if we have LOTS more founders building companies like these, we have a real chance of pushing the internet – and the tech industry – in a better direction.
The thing is, the system is stacked against founders like this. It’s really very hard. It hit us when Mozilla briefly piloted a startup support program a few years ago. Hundreds of young founders and teams have come forward with “very Mozilla” product and technology ideas. Yet they also came forward with stories of not being able to find mission-aligned investors, or mentors and incubators who shared their vision for people-first products. They felt frustrated before they even started.
Mozilla did what we could to help – providing mentorship and small pre-seed investments to dozens of companies. But we also saw the immense need to do more, and to do it systematically over time. Mozilla Ventures will be our first step in meeting this need.
Mozilla Ventures will be a $35 million+ venture capital fund for early-stage startups whose products or technologies advance one or more of the Mozilla Manifesto values. Privacy. Inclusion. Transparency. Accessibility. Human dignity. The fund will seek companies and founders aligned with these values and then, like other investors, examine their team, product and company. And, where all these things add up, we will invest.
The fund will be led by Managing Partner Mohamed Nanabhay, whose appointment I announce in this blog post. Mohamed brings a decade of experience investing in digital media ventures designed to advance democracy and free speech where those things are hard to come by. Which sets him up perfectly for the job ahead – finding and funding founders who have the odds against them, then helping them succeed.
Over the past few months, Mohamed and I have spent a lot of time thinking about the basic thesis behind the fund (finding great startups that align with the Mozilla Manifesto) – and testing that thesis through conversations with The founders.
We’ve already found three companies that back up our belief that companies like this exist – Secure AI Labs, Block Party, and heylogin. They are all companies driven by the idea that the digital world can be private, secure, respectful and that there are companies to be built to create this world. We are honored that these companies have seen the same alignment as us. They all opened up space on their ceilings table for Mozilla.
Our first few months of conversations with the founders (and other investors) have underscored something else: we have more questions than answers. Almost everyone we spoke to was excited about pushing the tech industry in a different direction, especially the young founders we spoke to. On the other hand, everyone sees huge challenges – the existing technology monopolies, the growth of venture capital funding at all costs, public cynicism. It’s important to be honest, we don’t have all the answers. We will (collectively) need to address these challenges as we go.
So that’s what we’re going to do. Our plan is to continue talking to founders – and making select investments – over the coming months. We’re also talking to fellow travelers like: Lucid Capitalism, a brilliant team of venture capital and ESG experts helping us design the fund; and also networks like Startups and Society and Responsible Innovation Labs that build communities to tackle these tough questions. And we speak with a select group of potential co-investors (LPs) who share our values. We will launch the full fund with at least $35 million in the first half of 2023.
If you are a potential founder or co-investor, we would be happy to talk to you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
#Mozilla #Ventures #Investing #responsible #technology #Mozilla #Blog