Thursday, September 3, 2020

Xfund 3 Raises Oversubscribed Fund to Back University-Based Innovation

PALO ALTO, Calif. and CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 3, 2020 -- Xfund, the early-stage venture capital firm designed to back lateral thinkers, today announced the firm's newest investment vehicle, Xfund 3. This is the latest collaboration with some of the world's preeminent universities in a partnership that has spanned nearly 10 years.

Xfund was launched in 2012 as an unparalleled collaboration between Harvard University and New Enterprise Associates and Breyer Capital, which house some of the world's most successful venture capitalists. Its vision is to combine the raw talent, intellectual rigor, and free-thinking of academia with the hard-nosed investment acumen of venture capital. The firm looks beyond the stereotypical technical pedigrees to seek out extraordinary people who are often systemically ignored by traditional venture capital —founders who have pursued liberal arts degrees.

"Some of the most consequential technology companies today were founded by people without a narrow technical background. People with liberal arts backgrounds — some of the world's best problem solvers — are often lulled into default prescribed paths in established industries," noted Patrick Chung and Brandon Farwell, partners at Xfund. "When Xfund intersects with their lives, we try to broaden their thinking beyond the expected, accepted alternatives and focus instead on the type of calling they want to have. By offering credible alternatives to default paths, we help to create unconventional, high potential entrepreneurs who can create a more social, intellectual, and financial impact on the world."

"Xfund is a first-of-its-kind collaboration and has evolved into a remarkable resource and community for Harvard and its students," said Harry R. Lewis, Xfund's Senior Faculty Advisor and former Dean of Harvard College. "Xfund has helped countless groups here take the plunge into entrepreneurial endeavors; the first few results have been wildly successful for everyone involved. My colleagues and I are thrilled with the partnership."

"We have enjoyed a long and dynamic partnership with Xfund," said Frank Doyle, Dean of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "The success of the firm's latest fund is a strong testament to the singular way in which Xfund helps talented founders grow companies that matter."

Debora Spar, Xfund Advisor and Senior Associate Dean at Harvard Business School, added: "Xfund's thesis to seek out and support founders with liberal arts backgrounds aligns beautifully with the important goal of educating the citizens and citizen-leaders who will make a difference in the world. In working toward this goal, the firm has earned an industry-leading record on investing in diverse founders who break molds."

"What appeals to me about Xfund is its grander mission," said Sandy Pentland, Xfund Advisor, MIT Professor and co-creator of the MIT Media Lab. "How do we engage and channel the world's best talent to break new and innovative ground, instead of directing them to march down well-trodden career paths?"

"We are very proud to have been a founding member and frequent co-investor of Xfund," said Scott Sandell, Managing General Partner of New Enterprise Associates. "The firm represents an exciting new model for a public-private partnership that benefits the partner universities, the students, and society at large."

"Breyer Capital has been an enthusiastic co-founder, limited partner, and co-investor of Xfund from its very start," said Jim Breyer, CEO of Breyer Capital. "The firm's structural advantages and clearly differentiated investment thesis and strategy remain as compelling as ever."

Xfund's strength lies in its foundational ties to professors and student groups like BASES at Stanford (the largest student-run entrepreneurship organization in the country), and Harvard Student Agencies (the largest student-run company in the world). These structural relationships help Xfund identify promising ideas and entrepreneurs at the earliest stages. Xfund has also forged deep institutional relationships across multiple centers of learning and research to help its portfolio companies gain access to resources and insights that might otherwise be impossible to achieve.

The team has already begun to make investments from the new fund.

About Xfund
Xfund is the early-stage venture firm designed to back lateral thinkers. Partnering with Harvard University and others of the world's preeminent universities, Xfund looks beyond the stereotypical technical pedigrees to seek out extraordinary people who are being systemically ignored by traditional venture capital: technically-gifted liberal arts entrepreneurs. We believe it's our responsibility to help these unconventional, high potential founders align their ambition and passion with opportunity we help them create, to build the sort of ground-breaking companies that can create a better tomorrow. Xfund has offices in Palo Alto, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more about Xfund, please visit


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