Jamie Goldstein, formerly of North Bridge Venture Partners, launched his new Boston venture capital firm Pillar last May with a star-studded cast of co-founders who invested in the fund, including DraftKings CEO Jason Robins, Wayfair co-founders Steve Conine and Niraj Shah, and TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer.
Up until this point, we’ve only known about two of Pillar’s investments: New Hampshire-based LBRY, which is using blockchain to change the way digital media is sharing, and Rekener, a local startup led by former BBN Technologies leader Alex Laats that was in stealth mode last we checked. But thanks to a Medium post by Goldstein on Wednesday, we now know about the eight other startup investments Pillar made within the last eight months, and it includes a mix of familiar and unfamiliar faces.
First, the familiar (at least for BostInno readers):
- Desktop Metal, the 3D metal printing startup led by A123 founder Ric Fulop
- PillPack, the online pharmacy startup led by T.J. Parker
- Talla, the workplace chatbot startup led by Rob May, who’s also a venture partner at Pillar
Now the unfamiliar (at least for us):
- Edgewise Networks, a network security startup led by former Infinio Systems exec Peter Smith
- Simbe Robotics, a retail robotics startup led by former Silver Spring Networks manager Brad Bogolea
- Kite, a programming assistant startup led by Xobni founder Adam Smith
- Kuebix, a logistics software startup led by Dan Clark
- PathAI, a cancer diagnosis AI startup led by Andy Beck, a principal investigator at Beth Israel
A majority of Pillar’s portfolio companies are in the greater Boston area. The only ones that aren’t are Simbe and Kite (both based in San Francisco).
“In most cases, we’ve been the first capital in for each investment.”
“In most cases, we’ve been the first capital in for each investment — not the first institutional capital, the first capital,” Goldstein wrote in his Medium post. “We know we can make the biggest impact by aligning with founders from the very beginning, helping them flesh out the story, validate concepts with customers, recruit additional key team members and build the right syndicate.”
One of the prevailing themes in Pillar’s investments so far is “machine intelligence.”
“Meeting with hundreds of dedicated founders over the last few months has only served to strengthen our belief that machine intelligence could be as revolutionary over the next 20 years as the creation of the internet has been over the last 20,” Goldstein wrote. “Machine learning has already begun to disrupt healthcare, finance, education, manufacturing and transportation. Robots, autonomous vehicles, IoT and bots are transforming how we live, work and create.”
In Goldstein’s post, he also wrote about the ways Pillar has leveraged its impressive lineup of 16 tech executives to help the firm’s portfolio companies. For instance, Dyn founder Jeremy Hitchcock joined LBRY as a board member and strategic adviser. And Rapid7 CEO Corey Thomas is now an adviser to Edgewise.
“We’re seeing results across the board, as our co-founders partner with our portfolio founders as mentors, board members, strategic advisors, and customers,” Goldstein said.
One of the other ways Pillar aims to stand out as a VC firm is by only using common stock, eschewing preferred stock or any other kinds of investing instruments that can misalign investors and founders.