Zetta Venture Partners’ Jocelyn Goldfein chats about AI investing

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Earlier this month, href=”https://www.zettavp.com/”>Zetta Venture Partners, a B2B, AI-focused venture outfit, announced a new $180 million fund.

As new VC funds are anecdotally a bit thinner on the ground these days — and because we’re in the midst of economic upheaval, which is changing investing patterns and shaking up startup verticals — I got on the phone with Zetta’s Jocelyn Goldfein (a TechCrunch regular) to chat about what her firm is doing and what’s up with AI investing.

The fund

Zetta’s new fund is about 50% larger than its preceding capital pool, which was roughly double its first fund. If you don’t want to do the math, Zetta’s first fund was worth $60 million, and its second $125 million.

Zetta will invest in B2B-focused, AI-powered seed-stage startups like it has before, but with more capital. I was curious about cadence: Would the firm write more checks more quickly now that it has more capital? Per Goldfein, the firm is keeping its pace and strategy pretty much the same with preceding funds, though it has promoted a principal from within who will begin to lead deals from the new fund.

Why more money if things are mostly looking the same? Zetta wants the capability to write larger checks and take a bit more ownership, so it needs more capital. In turn, defending those percentages requires more capital; you get the idea.

Pace, pricing

Early in our chat with Goldfein it became obvious that it’s an active time for AI-focused startups to raise, thanks to COVID-19-driven uncertainty. According to Goldfein, founders who have yet to raise their first capital are “looking at the funding window and thinking, oh, boy, if we thought we might raise three months from now, maybe we should just try now.” Even more, some companies that have already raised are going back to the market for top-ups. Goldfein said those startups are looking for “a little extra runway.”