Tusk Venture Partners just closed its third fund with $140 million, double its predecessor fund –

Tusk Venture Partners, the now six-year-old early-stage New York-based firm co-founded by longtime political strategist Bradley Tusk and former Blackstone executive Jordan Nof, has closed its third fund with $140 million in capital commitments. That’s double the $70 million the company raised for its second flagship fund, which closed in late 2019. $60 million

The outfit says it has now invested more than 50 startups in total, led 20% of those rounds and saw 12 exits in the process.

Some of its biggest hits include crypto exchange Coinbase, which went public through a direct listing last year; Lemonade insurance platform, which went public in the summer of 2020; and FanDuel, what was purchased in 2020 by the sports betting, gaming and entertainment company Flutter.

Tusk Venture Partners has had enough momentum that the company has recently doubled the size of its investment team. In addition to Tusk and Nof, Michaela Balderston, a communications professional who joined the company from its inception, has been promoted to partner and has joined the company’s investment committee. Tusk Venture Partners also brought on board Brad Welch, who recently joined as a partner of Morpheus Ventures in LA, where he was a partner.

All four are now based in New York, although Tusk Venture Partners is primarily a coastal company. Nof says 40% of corporate bets are on the West Coast, 40% on the East Coast and 20% elsewhere, with portfolio companies in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas, among others.

Of those portfolio companies, Tusk Venture Partners — like any venture capital firm right now — has stakes in buzzing startups whose valuations can shift as markets zigzag. One such bet is Circle Internet Financial. In February, the crypto firm agreed to a new merger with a SPAC that valued the company at $9 billion, double its valuation under the terms of the previous deal agreement. But crypto valuations have been in freefall across the board in recent weeks, and that deal is still “in process,” notes Nof.

The company also has a stake in the telemedicine company Ro, which was valued at $7 billion by its backers in February but has had its ups and downs internally, as previously reported here and here. With close rival Hims, who went public through a SPAC in January 2021 and now has a market cap of $800 million (versus $1.6 billion at the time of the SPAC merger), it’s conceivable that Ro will be affected by both these internal and external factors.

Tusk Venture Partners – which says it routinely uses its political expertise to help startups break regulatory barriers – was also an early investor in the micromobility company Bird, which caught the attention of the country in 2017 with its rentable electric scooters and was valued on $2.5 billion as of early 2020. The company, which went public through a SPAC late last year, has seen its market cap drop to $290 million, with shares trading at $1 as we type.

Nof, for his part, says he is not surprised or overly concerned about the current downturn. “I think the market has had the moment it has needed for a long time.”

Tusk himself adds that market swings aside, the plan continues to invest in the company’s four favorite categories overall, writing initial checks up to $7 million from its new fund in “fintech, which can range from any crypto.” -, NFT and DeFi stuff to insurance; digital health; transportation; and gaming. We’ll occasionally invest in something outside of those four areas,” he adds, “but once you’ve done all our investments, almost all fit into these categories.”

One of Tusk Venture Partners’ most recent deals is Allocate, a San Francisco-based digital investment platform for investors to access venture funds and co-investments. $15.3 million in Series A financing earlier this month led by M13.

In March, the company also initiated a deal Radish Healtha New York-based health platform for municipal governments and medium-sized businesses, which has raised $4 million in seed funding. also recently covered another investment from Tusk Venture Partners: Landline, a four-year-old Fort Collins, Colorado-based transportation startup that aims to spread the airline check-in process by processing people at much smaller hubs closer to their homes, well before they arrive at their departure gate. More about that company here.

Shreya Christina
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