Ted Leonsis' New Venture: Venture Capitalism

When we asked Ted Leonsis, owner of just about all the sports teams in Washington, DC if his future plans included purchasing another sports team, he replied "No."

While it may not be another sports team in his future, his latest venture includes joining his former AOL buddy, Steve Case, to help businesses make money.

Read on about Ted's Revolution Growth Fund. (Note to Ted: We're your first client).


Dear Friends and Partners,

We are pleased to announce the completion of our fundraising for the Revolution Growth fund. We closed on $450 million of capital commitments, more than our target amount, and ahead of our expected schedule. The three of us will lead the Revolution Growth fund and collectively are the largest investors in the fund. We are pleased to be joined by 24 terrific institutional limited partners.

Our focus now turns to the excitement of investing in and building a select number of innovative, high-growth companies. Our strategy will be one of concentration, and we anticipate making ten to twelve investments over the next five years. We will spend considerable time with each company, rolling up our sleeves to partner with great entrepreneurs to build iconic platform companies. As you might expect, we are particularly interested in consumer-centric companies that use new approaches to disrupt large industries. We will seek out entrepreneurs and companies that aim to build lasting, market-leading companies that can be game-changing. We expect to announce our first investment early next year.

The three of us have worked together for more than 15 years. We genuinely like and trust each other, and our skills complement each other. All three of us will be active with each company in which we invest. Indeed, in some ways, the Revolution Growth fund is a “throwback” to the early days of venture capital. We are not just investors, but former CEOs and business builders who have the expertise and passion to be actively involved with the companies we back. By making only a few investments each year, we will have the time to really help the entrepreneurs with whom we partner.

We will look to invest in what we call the “speed-up” stage — when a company is past the venture stage, but not yet to the growth stage. In these companies, there is proof of concept and some early revenues, but not yet mainstream adoption or market leadership. We love helping companies scale and are willing to spend the time necessary to help them achieve their full potential. We will concentrate our capital and time in a select number of opportunities, so we can be highly selective. We expect that our typical investment will be $25 - 50 million, which will generally enable us to be the largest and most influential investor.

While our visibility and reach is national, we will generally focus on investments in the Eastern United States. We believe there are great entrepreneurs building great companies all over the country, so we will focus our attention outside of Silicon Valley. We are all very excited about the potential of backing promising entrepreneurs and helping them build special companies.

Revolution Growth fund will be the primary investment focus for each of us. Ted will, of course, continue to be active with his sports teams, and Steve will continue to spend time on public policy issues related to entrepreneurship and will also continue to make earlier-stage venture investments, but for all of us, Revolution Growth fund will be the main event for our business building activities.

We are grateful for the friendship and partnership you have shown us over the years, and we hope we will have the opportunity to work with you in this new endeavor. You can learn more about Revolution Growth fund and our efforts at www.revolution.com/growth. Needless to say, if you run into companies that you think can change the world, let us know!

Steve Case Ted Leonsis Donn Davis


Side bar: It is noteworthy to mention that Groupon, partly owned by Leonsis, went public last month. He also owns the popular Living Social brand.

As a suggestion, if we're not your first choice as a client, then we'd like to see the Revolution Growth Fund invest in the African American companies who didn't quite find favor in Silicon Valley, as seen on CNN's Black in America 4, with Soledad O'Brien.