Posted In:

Whaling, VC, History

Whaling - Past, Present, VC


Apr 23, 2022


Roxy Horrie

Posted In:

Whaling, VC, History


Apr 23, 2022


Roxy Horrie


The business of venture capital has been compared to many things - poker, baseball, etc; but perhaps none quite as intriguing as whaling. In the mid 19th century, hunting whales for prized possessions of oil, meat and bones sustained a sizable industry. Spearing animals that averaged 50ft in length in the open sea and towing them back to land were undoubtedly “high risk, high reward” endeavors.

Nevertheless, whaling was expensive. Voyagers came to find that funding from traditional investors and banks was difficult to obtain given the risk parameters, illiquidity (a voyage could take upto 3.5yrs) and turned to alternatives. Whaling agents acted the part of VCs, pooling together individuals’ money to deploy against different expeditions, and even earned the earliest form of ‘carry - a percentage of items physically carried on the ship’.

One of the most important tasks for agents was diligence on expeditions: qualifications of the crew, equipment, boat conditions, and proposed strategy. Many of these same considerations are relevant to early-stage VC, who also diversify investments across a number of different companies in the hopes of generating outsized returns.

Startups received $143.9b in funding globally in the first three months of 2022, with one fifth of that funding deployed towards fintech companies. And there’s more - fundraising has launched into 2022 with continued momentum from recent record years, already collecting more than $70b in commitments. Now there’s a whale of a number.

Whale Hello There

Portfolio News

Women Who Roar podcast series episode 3: Women work f*cking hard - Episode 3 produced in collaboration with FinTech Collective and MoneyLion is live! What does female representation look like on the trading floor? How do we overcome the gender pay gap? Why do prenups get a bad rep, and who needs one? Hear from Kristin Merrick, formerly of Morgan Stanley and now a financial advisor at O'Keeffe Financial Partners & founder of Women Work F*cking Hard on these topics and more. Click the link to listen to or watch the full episode now! Read more

Constrafor announces partnership with Bespoke Metrics to help subcontractors grow their business - Constrafor's cutting-edge procurement platform is a natural extension to Bespoke Metrics' COMPASS prequalification tool, as it allows subcontractors to seamlessly interact with their existing and new General Contractors. Constrafor and Bespoke Metrics are uniquely placed to provide an integrated solution to help subcontractors streamline their pre-construction and take on more projects. Read more

Whaling - Past, Present, VC

VC: An American History - This book, by Tom Nicholas, tells the story of how the venture capital industry arose from America’s longstanding identification with entrepreneurship and risk-taking -- starting with the whaling voyages that set sail from New Bedford in the earliest days of VC. Read more

Venture Capital: Whaling in the digital age - The early roots of VC can be traced back to pioneer times when high risk ventures required the backing of a financial sponsor with considerable risk appetite. These sponsors would typically be industrial families with amassed wealth, looking to now diversify investments with a project that they believe in. An early example can be found with whaling ships in the mid 19th century. Read more

CB Insights State of Venture Q1’22 report - Global venture funding reached $143.9b raised across 8,835 deals in Q1’22, down 19% from the previous quarter’s funding. Despite the slowdown, Q1’22 marked the fourth-largest quarter for funding on record. Additionally, $1 out of every $5 of venture investment went to fintech companies, which saw $28.8b raised across 1,399 deals. Read more

Industry News

Robinhood signs agreement to acquire Ziglu - Ziglu, which allows consumers to trade crypto and earn yields, holds licenses to operate in the U.K. and Europe. Robinhood is leaning on crypto to expand abroad and reignite growth and this deal marks the company's first major move as part of that strategy. Read more

Amazon targets rival Shopify with new ‘Buy With Prime’ service - The new “Buy With Prime” feature combines Amazon’s payments and fulfillment services and makes them available at checkout on other websites, letting shoppers use their Amazon Prime membership to receive fast-shipping and other benefits. Read more

Fintech giant Stripe jumps into crypto with a feature that lets Twitter users get paid in stablecoin - Stripe will allow businesses to pay their users via cryptocurrencies, starting with Twitter, in the latest sign of how large financial firms are warming to digital assets. Starting imminently, the social media platform will let a certain number of creators receive their earnings from its paid Ticketed Spaces and Super Follows features in USDC. Read more

Crypto thieves get bolder by the heist, stealing record amounts - Last Sunday, a hacker exploited a new algorithmic stablecoin project called Beanstalk and drained it of $182m worth of digital assets. The Beanstalk hack was the fifth-largest crypto theft on record and the WSJ explains how they did it. The Beanstalk hack follows a $540m theft last month from the platform for the online game Axie Infinity. Read more

China to launch private pensions in bid to unlock vast savings stockpile - China has said it will launch an official private pension scheme that aims to push more of the country’s vast household savings into the financial market, as the government grapples with an aging population. Employees in China will be able to contribute up to Rmb12,000 a year ($1,860) to private schemes. Read more

The Fed is looking to speed up payments - The Federal Reserve promises that FedNow — a new service for banks and credit unions — will help make real-time payments a reality for the U.S. banking industry. Read more

2021 cryptocurrency gains by country: Ethereum leads as gains skyrocket around the world - 2021 was another strong year for cryptocurrency, as assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum were able to build on positive momentum gained at the end of 2020 and hit new all-time highs in 2021. Overall, across all cryptocurrencies Chainalysis tracks, investors around the world realized total gains of $162.7b in 2021, compared to just $32.5b in 2020. Read more

Plaid co-founder takes aim at rickety banking tech - Mr. Hockey, a co-founder of the $13b fintech startup Plaid, and his wife, Annie Hockey, plunked down about $50m for Northern California National Bank last year, then gut-renovated its operating systems and renamed it Column. Read more

‘It could destroy your life’: crypto trading goes to rehab - From a $90,000-a-week Swiss clinic to inexpensive teletherapies, addiction specialists are offering treatments for compulsive crypto traders. Read more

The Wolf of Crypto! - Jordan Belfort, the inspiration for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is marketing himself these days as a cryptocurrency guru! Read more

2022 Wharton fintech conference recap - Last year global fintech funding doubled to reach record highs. The covid pandemic shifted how people access their financial services and accelerated digital adoption worldwide. The 2022 panels covered the latest trends in fintech investing, fintech in emerging markets, the evolution of the fintech capabilities of tech giants, personal finance including wealth management, lending and financial inclusivity, and enterprise fintech empowering startups and SMBs. Read more

Select Financings

Abhi - Pakistan based financial wellness company raised $17m in Series A funding led by Speedinvest. Read more

AppHub - New York based e-commerce software provider for merchants raised $60m in growth funding from Silversmith Capital Partners. Read more

BlockApps - New York based crypto blockchain infrastructure company raised $41m in growth funding led by Liberty City Ventures. Read more

CoinDCX - Mumbai based cryptocurrency exchange raised $135m in Series D funding led by Pantera and Steadview. Read more

Crusoe Energy Systems - Denver based clean computing infrastructure company raised $350m in Series C funding led by G2 Venture Partners. Read more

Ellis - New York based neobank focused on students moving to the U.S. raised a $6m in Seed funding led by Kindred Ventures. Read more

EPNS - Decentralized communication layer for crypto raised $10m in Series A funding led by Jump Crypto. Read more

Everstage - Delaware based sales commission platform raised $13m in Series A funding led by Elevation Capital. Read more

Fasset - UK based digital asset gateway raised $22m in Series A funding led by Liberty City Ventures and Fatima Gobi. Ventures. Read more

Financepeer - Mumbai based education-focused fintech company raised $31m in Series B funding led by QED Investors and Aavishkaar Capital. Read more

Flipside Crypto - Boston based blockchain analytics company raised $50m in growth funding led by Republic Capital. Read more

Foodics - Saudi based payment platform for restaurants raised $170m in Series C funding led by Prosus and Sanabil Investments. Read more

Fundguard - New York based investment management platform raised $40m in Series B funding led by Blumberg Capital. Read more

Kinara Capital - India based MSME lending company raised $50m in Series E funding led by Nuveen. Read more

Loop Health - India based health insurance company raised $40m in Series B funding led by General Catalyst and Elevation Capital. Read more

Hedge - New York based lending protocol on the Solana blockchain raised $4m in Seed funding led by Race Capital. Read more

MetaLend - California based web3 banking company raised $5m in Seed funding led by Pantera Capital. Read more

Mintbase - Lisbon based NFT infrastructure company raised $13m in Series A funding led by Woodstock Fund. Read more

NovoPayment - Miami based multicurrency payments and card company raised $19m in Series A funding led by Fuel Venture Capital and IDC Ventures. Read more

Scroll - China based Ethereum scaling project raised $30m in a Series A funding round led by Polychain Capital. Read more

Seon - London based fraud prevention company raised $94m in growth funding led by IVP. Read more

Themis - New York City based collaborative governance, risk, and compliance platform raised $9m in Seed funding led by TTV Capital. Read more

Treinta - Colombia based financial superapp for small businesses raised $46m in new funding led by PayU. Read more

Union54 - Zambia based card issuing company raised $12m in Seed funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Wheelhouse - San Francisco based revenue management company raised $16m in new funding led by NEA and Highgate Ventures. Read more


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