John Curtius, the prolific Tiger Global senior partner who has been at the center of some of the firm’s biggest deals in the last several years, is leaving the firm, TechCrunch has learned. He will be leaving to start his own firm, which will concentrate investments from Series A to Series C. Curtius will stay with Tiger until June, sources say.
The Tiger Global quarterly investor letter that it sent out earlier today also confirms the news. “We are grateful for all his contributions to Tiger Global and have appreciated his work ethic and intellect,” it said. “We look forward to staying close and finding ways to collaborate.” He will be working with the investment team to transition responsibilities, although as he was also personally invested in a number of the portfolio companies, Curtius will also continue to work with these, we understand.
Investments for Curtius’s new firm will focus on B2B software as a service, apps, infrastructure, AI and machine learning, we understand. No crypto.
Why the decision to leave? From what we understand, Curtius, who, in the past worked at Silver Lake and Elliott Management, has long wanted to start his own firm and now felt like it was the right time in the market to do so.
The new firm has yet to start raising funds, but Curtius has a big, strong network through his prolific work at Tiger, which has included hundreds of investments from companies like Databricks and more recently CleverTap and Lattice, as well as UiPath, Snowflake, Asana and many more; we understand that he may be tapping founders from that network to join him in investing (several have expressed interest already). It’s not clear if Tiger itself will back the fund.
The last year has seen a big shift in the world of startups: economic shifts have led to massive declines in publicly-traded tech stocks, which has trickled down to put pressure on privately backed companies, which have seen their valuations get slashed and, in many cases, funding dry up. That’s also put huge pressure on big investment firms. Tiger, which has big investments in public tech firms, saw nearly $17 billion in losses by the middle of this year has appeared to be approaching a crossroads in its venture business.
“Globally, high inflation has persisted, interest rates are continuing to rise, and a recession seems increasingly likely,” Tiger notes in its investor letter. “Investor sentiment measures are hovering at lows last seen during the Global Financial Crisis.”
But lower valuations and less investing activity overall, of course, often also opportunity for investors who are willing to take leaps, since there are still a number of interesting companies being hatched and solid startups needing to raise their next rounds.
Tiger is not the only big firm to be losing a key partner: today, news broke that Matt Mazzeo is leaving Coatue to start his own fund as well according to The Information. (The timing of the two announcements, we understand, is pure coincidence and the two investors are not teaming up.)
Many are referring to the period in the market right now as a “funding winter”, and indeed Tiger itself is not immune to that. Its investor letter points out that public funds generated losses, that public longs underpeformed led by positions in China, and that its private portfolio was also down in the quarter. “This continues to be a challenging market for our strategy, and we have tried to position the portfolio accordingly.” But given this new activity, could it perhaps just as aptly be called “funding spring”?
Update: Forbes, which also got wind of this story, notes that Curtius’s new fund will be called Cedar Investment Management. No idea if that’s word/wood play on another big-name VC firm named after a tree.
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