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Fidelity’s billionaire Johnson family backs consumer venture capital fund

FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments, is backing a new venture capital fund whose initial investments span spices, vegan vitamins, and skincare.Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments, is backing a new venture capital fund whose initial investments span spices, vegan vitamins, and skincare.

Unfold Ventures began marketing itself Monday, launching with $300 million from FMR, which counts the billionaire Johnson family as its biggest shareholder.

The fund spent about a year prior to the launch quietly investing in four startups in health, wellness, and beauty. The majority of the fund’s assets have not yet been invested.

Unfold has three partners including Scott Norton, who cofounded a buzzy condiment company that was sold to Unilever for roughly $140 million in 2017, Bloomberg reported at the time. He said the new fund is seeking young companies that stand out and have a loyal following.

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“It’s exactly in moments like now — when there’s a pullback — where there are compelling, timeless companies to find,” Norton said. “Sustainable businesses are being separated from unsustainable businesses.”

Unfold will invest on behalf of FMR’s deep-pocketed owners, which include the Johnson clan — one of the world’s wealthiest families. Abigail Johnson, the chief executive of Fidelity, is worth $34.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. FMR’s other venture funds include F-Prime Capital, which oversees $4.5 billion and invests in health care and technology companies.

Unfold is navigating a precarious environment for startups. Higher interest rates have quashed much venture funding activity and early-stage startups, which have a high rate of failure, are under the added pressure of tighter borrowing conditions. A wave of businesses, including in the consumer-products industry, have failed under the stress of steeper rates.

The companies that have received investments from Unfold so far include beauty and skincare brand Live Tinted; spice and seasonings company Kinder’s; vegan-vitamin purveyor MaryRuth Organics; and Beekeeper’s Naturals, which sells immune-support products derived from bees.

Unfold has a staff of five, including partners Shamez Kanji and Suzanne Agnello.

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