Podcaster turned tech investor raises $ 140 million fund

A 24-year-old who dropped out of law school in southwest London who as a teenager started a popular podcast on technology investing has raised $ 140 million in new money to support start-ups.

Harry Stebbings has secured investments from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rothschild-backed RIT Capital Partners, as well as Spotify founders and early backers, Calm and Atlassian, for his 20VC fund.

Several of Stebbings’ investors appeared on his podcast, Twenty Minute VC, who has released hundreds of episodes since his debut at the age of 18 in 2015. He dropped out of law school the following year to devote himself to podcasting full-time, before jumping into investing. in 2017, at the age of 20.

“When you look at the next 10 years, we see this bifurcation, with collisions between media and business,” Stebbings said, as it becomes increasingly competitive for venture capitalists to enter. the hottest start-ups.

He cited Silicon Valley investor Andreessen Horowitz as another example of how VCs are building their own content platforms, allowing them to bypass traditional media and build a profile that can attract entrepreneurs.

After raising an initial fund of $ 8.3 million in April 2020, Stebbings invested in start-ups including audio social network Clubhouse and virtual events service Hopin, both of which reached valuations of several billions of dollars. founder of Hopin Johnny Boufarhat is also an investor in 20VC.

A slew of social media influencers are trying to use their online profiles to become investors, including YouTubers Jake Paul and Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, and TikTok star Josh Richards.

But few have raised as much capital as quickly as Stebbings, who grew up in Fulham, southwest London.

Her father is a stockbroker and her mother has multiple sclerosis; the podcast was originally launched to help him pay for his medical bills, as well as build connections in the tech industry.

“The podcast is my store name,” Stebbings said. “It’s easier than ever to create content, but it’s harder than ever to build a brand. . . Distribution, in the end, is everything.

20VC is the latest example of the influx of capital into European technology. Over the past week, Balderton launched a $ 680million growth fund, while Draper Esprit announced plans to raise an additional £ 111million from investors.

Venture capital funding for European tech companies reached € 38.9 billion last year, according to investment tracker Dealroom.co, but it has already exceeded that level in 2021 with € 48.1 billion. euros invested so far.

Stebbings admitted he was “a little” concerned that the private tech market was “really heated,” but pointed to the multibillion-dollar valuations of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet as evidence that the returns from a winning bet could be higher forever.

Among Stebbings’ supporters is Shakil Khan, who had previously invested in start-ups launched by young British entrepreneurs Proud james and Nick D’Aloisio.

“I’ve believed in Harry since his very first episodes of The Twenty Minute VC, recorded from his mother’s kitchen six years ago,” said Khan, co-founder of Prima Materia, a billion-dollar investment firm. euros, alongside the CEO of Spotify. Daniel Ek.

20VC will operate two funds, with $ 33 million for start-up investments and $ 107 million for deals in more established tech companies.

But Stebbing insists there is a “total line” between the podcast and its investments.

“We can never muddy the waters when it comes to the quality of the content. Just because I invest in your business doesn’t mean we feature you “on the podcast,” he said.

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