Contrary Secures $75 Million for Third Fund after Raising $20 Million for Second Fund in October

Contrary, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm has raised $75 million for its third fund, aimed at investing in individuals rather than companies, as part of its talent-first strategy. Eric Tarczynski, the founder of Contrary, believes that fostering a community of top tech talent and investing in individuals before they launch or join startups is an alternative to investing in companies later. The firm has built a 400-strong group of fellows through scouts, referrals, and inbound interest. The strategy has led the firm to invest in early-stage companies, including prayer app Hallow and payroll infrastructure startup Check Technologies. It has also backed current unicorns such as corporate credit card startup Ramp, valued at $8 billion, and defence tech Anduril, valued at $6.5 billion.

Contrary typically writes its first check at the pre-seed or seed stage, and the new vehicle will allow it to back its companies throughout their life cycles and write larger checks at later stages. The firm has made several investments out of the new fund, many undisclosed, including Brevity, a Utah-based no-code platform. While other firms, such as Neo and Preface, have also started to follow a talent-first strategy, Contrary was a pioneer in this area.

Contrary plans to continue its talent-first strategy but will likely be backing more web3 and crypto startups out of Fund III than in prior funds because that is where the Contrary fellows want to work. The firm accepts about 50-100 new fellows a year and has a strong community of talented individuals. One such fellow is Stella Han, who was introduced to the firm back in 2018 when she was a senior at Carnegie Mellon studying computer science. When she got an idea for her first startup, Tarczynski helped her transition to a role at fintech Affirm. Her latest startup, Fractional, a social platform for people to invest in real estate together, have been able to hire out of Contrary’s fellowship and has since secured $5.5 million in funding.

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