The Boston-based venture capital firm Battery Ventures said Wednesday that it has raised $2 billion to pour into growing companies, a signal that investors remain keenly interested in the nuts-and-bolts business innovations that form the core of the region’s tech sector.
The deal comes two years after Battery had raised a $1.25 billion pool of money. The new, larger haul indicates that the appetite has grown for deals involving companies in Battery’s focus area, which includes enterprise software, cloud computing, e-commerce, and financial technology.
While the tech world has seen a series of underwhelming results as highly-valued private tech companies hit public markets, Battery general partner Michael Brown said in an interview that some of those businesses — such as Uber and the mattress company Casper — are consumer-focused firms that are difficult to compare with most of Battery’s investments.
Battery is not without experience with consumer-facing companies ― Glassdoor and Wayfair are among its notable former investments ― but Brown was eager to highlight companies it’s invested in such as Avalara, a Seattle-based maker of tax compliance software that went public in 2018 and whose shares have more than doubled since they began being publicly traded.
He said many recent IPO successes involve companies that “sell boring, unsexy software to enterprise customers and even small customers.”
“The fundamental business model is so good that public investors like the opportunity that they see. Even if a company’s not making money today, they can see a path where a company that’s selling software to an enterprise customer can ultimately become a profitable business,” Brown said.
More recent investments by Battery include Cambridge-based LogRocket, which makes programs that help companies analyze how users will experience their digital products, and Boston-based Thundra, which helps clients improve the performance of their applications.
Initial public offerings are a major way for firms like Battery to cash out their investment returns in the companies they have backed (acquisitions are another). But the string of notable IPO disappointments does not appear to have dramatically reduced the appeal of venture funds to the major sources of capital, such as pension funds, which give them money to invest in companies.
Information compiled by the data firm PitchBook shows that venture firms across the United States raised $46.3 billion last year. That’s down from $58 billion in 2018, but still higher than at any other point in the past decade. In 2018, Boston firms including Battery, Bain Capital Ventures, and General Catalyst all hit or surpassed $1 billion in new funds.
Brown said raising money for Battery’s latest funds this year was not a particularly dramatic challenge given the firm’s long track record. This is the 37-year-old firm’s 13th set of funds. The firm also has offices in Silicon Valley, New York, London, and Israel.
The challenge, Brown said, is in competing for new deals with promising companies, particularly larger ones that are looking for bigger investments to help them grow faster.
That’s why Battery invests in companies at various stages in their development. The $2 billion announced Wednesday includes a $1.2 billion venture investment fund and a $800 million side fund to invest in later-stage growth and buyout transactions.