Indie.vc, a firm focused on bringing startups to profitability, is shutting down.
After six years and nearly 40 startups, one of Silicon Valley’s most unconventional and beloved VC firms is calling it quits, according to a blog post by founder Bryce Roberts.
“We’re proud of the work we’ve done as investors, brand builders, and movement makers,” Roberts wrote. “We love Indie!...That said, without the institutional support to scale the Indie Economy we envision, it’s time to take our learnings and refocus on other strategies within the portfolio to deploy our capital.”
Indie.vc became an overnight sensation in Silicon Valley after Roberts (who had been a VC himself for years) published a Tumblr post on what the firm was about back in 2015. Instead of writing founders a huge check for a seed round or a Series A, Indie would use a new investment structure, working with startups on their path to profitability. Roberts didn’t think the concept was so radical — he once told TechCrunch that profitability was more achievable than raising a Series A.
Indie was part of a wave of founder-friendly VC firms in that they were perceived as not relentlessly marching their investments towards land-grab markets or unicorn-scale growth as fast as possible. Rather, Roberts focused on businesses that were on a path to profitability, and could be helped to get there with an investment that allowed them to not worry so much about their next round. They wanted their investments to have some basis in reality — a product, a corporate structure, revenue — not just drawing board ideas that could either become home runs or strikeouts.
In this way the fund bucked the trend of most big VC firms on and off Sand Hill Road, where a few monster investments carry along a portfolio of dozens of other bets that may never pan out to a "venture scale" return.
Several startups to come out of Indie have remained profitable, Roberts wrote, with many generating seven figures in revenue year after year. Indie’s startup mortality rate is 10%, compared with 44% for the rest of venture capital.
Unfortunately, the firm couldn’t continue without more capital from LPs, as many as 80% of whom backed out of supporting Indie. Their reasons usually had something to do with Indie’s break from the VC norm. Roberts even posted an example of the kind of LP rejection Indie often received, which said, “We are out. The shift in strategy for the fund over time (for your good, intentional reasons) has moved further away from the kinds of companies we are looking to have exposure to.”
After publishing the post, Roberts tweeted about the outpouring of support he received after Indie’s demise.
“You pour yourself into something so completely for so long and then it doesn’t work out how you’d hoped and have to lay bare your failure while bracing for the worst,” Roberts wrote in a tweet.