Drive Capital was based by two former Sequoia Capital companions making an try to start anew inside the Midwest. however retailers inside the Columbus, Oh.-primarily based agency have had a bumpy journey of late, and in accordance with our sources, they aren’t having fun with it.
It’s a dramatic flip for Drive, which introduced $1 billion in capital commitments again in June, a healthful quantity for a ten-yr-outdated agency whose mission it is to take a place virtually everywhere inside the U.S. outdoors of Silicon Valley. in point of fact, in June, the agency — cofounded by veteran VCs Mark Kvamme and Chris Olsen — gave the impression to be driving extreme, with simply a few apparent wins in its portfolio and property beneath administration that had grown to better than $2 billion.
but courting again to September — quickly after we interviewed Olsen for a narrative — we heard rumblings a pair of rift, collectively with separate plans that Kvamme was making. Then obtained here the announcement final month that the staff was splitting up.
At first, the story was that Kvamme, who logged better than twice as a few years at Sequoia than Olsen, was transitioning to “confederate emeritus” as a consequence of, as he instructed the regional outlet Columbus enterprise First, 10 years and 4 funding cycles was longer than he initially deliberate to information Drive Capital. (This obtained here as information to Drive’s retailers.)
This week, the various shoe dropped. Columbus enterprise First reported that Kvamme, who races automobiles, is simply not zipping off to semi-retirement however as a substitute talking with potential backers a pair of new fund, the Ohio Fund, which is ready to apparently pay money for a quantity of asset functions, collectively with completely different funds, public shares, private corporations in Ohio, and infrastructure. the thought is to “give consideration to the prolonged time period financial vitality of Ohio,” said an unnamed supply to the outlet.
Olsen now says that he’s surprised by this enchancment. We obtained a letter that Drive despatched out to its restricted companions tonight that reads:
costly restricted confederate:
This week an article was printed indicating that our confederate Emeritus Mark Kvamme is launching a mannequin new funding fund. All of us at Drive had been surprised by this information, as we’re constructive you had been too. whereas we is simply not going to ship you a observe each time a mannequin new article about Mark is printed, we really feel that inside the spirit of being a very good confederate, it’s acceptable to current you a clear replace about this case and our relationship with Mark.
After the article was printed we spoke with Mark and found that the prospect of him elevating a mannequin new fund was leaked to a journalist from an unknown supply. in accordance with Mark, he has not but decided what he is going to do subsequent. elevating a mannequin new form of fund is one factor he is contemplating, collectively with completely different selections in public service and private endeavors.
we have now a appropriate separation settlement with Mark that stops him from starting a aggressive agency or fund to Drive. Please know that this was a closely negotiated settlement to be constructive that that it considerably protects Drive, our restricted companions’ pursuits, and all the pieces we’re constructing in direction of at Drive.
as quickly as extra, we do not intend to converse with you each time a mannequin new article is written about Mark, however on this event, we thought it acceptable to current clarification. do you should might have any questions, please do not hesitate to attain out [contact information redacted by TechCrunch].
The Drive staff
Olsen declined to remark for this story; we reached out to Kvamme and did not acquire a response. however it certainly’s sophisticated, to say the least.
in accordance with our sources, an component of the chop up traces to a relationship between Olsen and Yasmine Lacaillade, who was Drive’s COO for virtually seven years earlier than leaving the agency in April to launch her personal funding outfit.
requested about this, a Drive spokesman downplayed any tensions which will have arisen from a romantic relationship between the two, writing: “sure you heard proper in that Chris and Yas are in a relationship. That’s been public knowledge for a whereas. No suggestions past that.”
Like most enterprise outfits proper now, Drive additionally finds its portfolio in rougher type than a yr or two in the past. truly one of Drive’s largest exits thus far has been that of Root insurance coverage, a now seven-yr-outdated, Columbus, Oh.-primarily based insurance coverage agency that makes a speciality of automotive safety and that staged a commonplace IPO in November 2020. although the shares carried out initially, they’ve tanked since, at present priced at roughly $7 every after a reverse inventory chop up, down from $486 per share the day the agency went public. Olsen stepped off the board in November of final yr.
the various large star of Drive’s portfolio at present — Olive AI — is making an try to beat its personal challenges. The Columbus-primarily based healthcare automation startup, based in 2012, has prolonged framed its intensive historic previous of pivots (better than 30 thus far) as an inspirational story of making an try, then making an try as quickly as extra. Olive was rewarded by retailers for its willingness to shift gears, too. It has raised a staggering $902 million over time and said final yr that it was valued at $4 billion.
nonetheless the outfit was by no means all that it appeared, in accordance with a sequence of damning Axios objects, and by September, the wheels had been quick loosening. Most notably, the agency’s chief monetary officer and chief product officer had been abruptly fired, following out the door pretty simply a few C-stage executives who additionally left this fall, collectively with its president, a senior director of operations, its EVP of operations and its SVP of payer product method.
Olive AI has since said it would promote a portion of its companies to Rotera, an group constructed out of Olive’s personal enterprise studio.
restricted companions aren’t glad about these collective developments, however thus far as we’re conscious, they’ve not talked about taking movement and it seems unlikely that they’re going to.
First, it’s exceedingly unusual for restricted companions to rearrange in opposition to a enterprise agency to which they’ve dedicated capital and solely barely much less unusual for VCs to enhance LPs the courtesy of scaling again their commitments.
they would possibly additionally anticipate that Olsen will land on his toes. He does have sixteen years of enterprise investing expertise and a workers of roughly 20 at Drive to assist him.
extra, there isn’t a lot curiosity in creating issues for Kvamme, who borders on VC royalty. (His father was a confederate at Kleiner Perkins; his first spouse is the daughter of one other famed VC, former Sequoia Capital confederate Pierre Lamond.)
Kvamme might even be very related in Ohio, after being lured there initially by his longtime buddy John Kasich to take an financial enchancment job. He might have political aspirations of his personal, too. certainly, one regional investor not too prolonged in the past instructed enterprise Insider that Kvamme might even be launching a fund meant to bolster Ohio’s economic system as groundwork for a future advertising and marketing campaign.
It’s a playbook that’s been used effectively earlier than. VC and creator JD Vance arrange a enterprise agency in Cincinnati referred to as Narya in late 2019 earlier than saying his bid for Senate roughly 1.5 years later. In late September, in accordance with Cleveland.com, Kvamme co-hosted a fundraiser for Vance, who gained his race earlier this month.