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Aspect Ventures, an early-stage, five-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm founded five years ago very notably by two veteran VCs who happen to be women, is splitting up. Cofounders Jennifer Fonstad, formerly of DFJ, and Theresia Gouw, formerly of Accel, are launching separate firms, a source confirms.

The WSJ reported the news earlier today.

Fonstad tells the outlet that the split owes to “different leadership styles and different ways of operating at the portfolio level.”

Going forward, she plans to operate under the brand Owl Capital and to invest in growth deals, including in enterprise software, which has been a major focus area for Aspect, with occasional exceptions, including the newly public consignment business TheRealReal and a direct-to-consumer jewelry brand called Baublebar.

Gouw, who is appearing in several weeks at our TechCrunch Disrupt event to talk about industry trends, declined to comment. But some members of Aspect’s team are joining her at new firm, aCrew, including Lauen Kolodny, who joined Aspect five years ago and was promoted from principal to partner in 2017; and Vishal Lugani, who joined Aspect as a principal in 2016 after spending 3.5 years as a senior associate with Greycroft and whose LinkedIn bio now identifies him as a founding partner with aCrew.

Team members who are meanwhile joining Fonstad include Chad Herrin, a former SuccessFactors VP who has been a venture partner with Aspect since last year; and Rebecca Hu, who spent a year with Earlybird Venture Capital before joining Aspect roughly one year ago as an investor.

Aspect had raised $ 150 million for its debut fund and a second $ 181 million fund at the start of 2018. Gouw, Fonstad and the rest of their Aspect colleagues will continue managing out these investments, though they will be making all new investments out of their respective new vehicles, presumably as they are locking down capital commitments.

According to the WSJ, aCrew is targeting $ 175 million for its debut fund, while Owl Capital is shooting for $ 125 million in capital commitments.

The firm is far from the first to split over clashing management styles. Most recently, Social Capital drastically changed shape, with cofounder Mamoon Hamid heading over to help recharge Kleiner Perkins, and numerous other early members of the firm leaving to found Tribe Capital.


TechCrunch

Silicon Valley investor Ronny Conway is raising his third early-stage venture fund, shows a new SEC filing that states the fund’s target is $ 140 million and that the first sale has yet to occur.

The now six-year-old firm, A.Capital, focuses on both consumer and enterprise tech, and has offices in Menlo Park and San Francisco.

Among the many brand-name companies in its portfolio are Coinbase, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Reddit. (You can find its other investments here.)

Conway led the seed-stage program of Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) for roughly four years in its earliest days and left in 2013 to raise his debut fund, which closed with $ 51 million in capital commitments. He also raised two, smaller parallel funds at the time.

According to SEC filings, he sought out $ 140 million for his second fund, though he never announced its close.

A.Capital is today run by Conway, along with General Partner Ramu Arunachalam (also formerly of a16z) and Kartik Talwar, who worked previously with Conway’s brother Topher, and his famed father, Ron, at their separate venture firm, SV Angel.

Conway maintains a far lower profile than his father, who throughout his venture career has nurtured relationships not only with founders but with tech reporters and local politicians.

Though now ancient history in Silicon Valley years, Ronny Conway has been credited with introducing a16z to Instagram when it was a nascent mobile photo-sharing app.

Conway, a former Googler, met Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom in the several years when Systrom, too, worked for the search giant, beginning in 2006. It turned out to be a highly worthwhile introduction to a16z, though it could have been even lucrative. Though the firm made a seed-stage bet on Instagram, it didn’t follow up with another check because of a separate investment in a competing startup that would eventually flounder (PicPlz).

It was a sensitive issue at the time for a16z, with some noting its missed opportunity. In fact, firm cofounder Ben Horowitz felt compelled to write in a blog post that when Facebook acquired Instagram for $ 1 billion in 2012, a16z did just fine, wringing $ 78 million from its $ 250,000 seed investment in the startup.


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