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New ‘rolling’ investment fund led by Seattle tech vets targets startups capitalizing on 5G

Geekwire logo Geekwire 11/11/2021 Taylor Soper
Jim Brisimitzis and Kevin Ober. © Provided by Geekwire Jim Brisimitzis and Kevin Ober.

Seattle-area tech veterans Jim Brisimitzis and Kevin Ober are leading a new investment fund targeting startups that go through the 5G Open Innovation Lab, a Bellevue, Wash.-based startup program.

The 5G Open Innovation Lab Rolling Fund uses an investment model introduced by AngelList last year that lets fund managers accept new capital from accredited investors in quarterly commitments.

The 5G Open Innovation Lab launched last year and runs a 12-week program for startups that are building 5G-related technology. It is backed by T-Mobile, Microsoft, Intel, and others.

Brisimitzis, a former Microsoft leader who helped launch Microsoft for Startups, is founder and CEO of the lab.

Ober is well known in venture capital circles. He co-founded Seattle venture capital firm Divergent Ventures, and before that spent seven years with Vulcan Ventures, the venture capital firm of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The pair previously created Cloud City Venture Capital last year. The rolling fund is an evolution of that idea.

The new fund will primarily back companies coming out of the lab program. It will make 8-to-10 early-stage investments between $50,000 and $500,000 in companies mainly based in North America.

Investors in the rolling fund must subscribe to a minimum of four quarters, investing at least $12,500 each quarter. They can keep subscribing to additional quarters after that.

The lab’s corporate partners are not involved in the rolling fund.

Ober said the lab provides high quality deal flow, and that sparked the idea to open a rolling fund.

“We’ve got a really powerful engine for making investments: great deal flow, excellent due diligence, and a better knowledge than most folks about this particular sector of technology,” Ober noted.

5G is the next generation of wireless service that is expected to pave the way for smarter cities, faster downloads, self-driving cars, and countless other software and hardware innovations that are hard to predict, just as tech stalwarts such as Uber and Snapchat couldn’t be anticipated until 4G and LTE made their business models possible.

The lab recently unveiled its fourth cohort. Since the lab’s first batch of startups in May 2020, 59 teams have participated in the program, raising over a $500 million in pre-program funding.


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