At Foundry Group, we take a thematic approach to investing. While our overall investment domain is “software and Internet”, we are very focused on a set of broad, horizontal themes. These tend to be abstract in nature and are used by us as an intellectual filter for what we are interested in. Our themes strongly guide our investment activity and, while we like to say that we’re not “slaves to our themes”, more often than not we don’t look at investments that don’t fit into our thematic investment focus. This saves both us and the entrepreneur a lot of time.
We are currently investing in the following themes:
– Distribution: Giant existing online markets can be completely disrupted by new distribution methods like Facebook, Twitter, Mobile, and User-Generated Content. Sample companies include Betabrand, StockTwits, Sympoz, and Zynga.
– Glue: Computers love to talk to one another. The amount of “computer to computer interaction” is increasing at a dramatic rate. There’s a software layer that “glues” this together. Sample companies include AppDirect, Cloudability, Gnip, Mapbox, mLab, Next Big Sound, Pantheon, and VictorOps.
– Human Computer Interaction: The way humans interact with computers 20 years from now will make the way we interact with them today look silly. Sample companies include 3D Robotics, Fitbit, Harmonix, littleBits, Makerbot, Modular Robotics, Oblong, Occipital, and Orbotix.
– Protocol: Many protocols – both formal and informal ones – support extensive software ecosystems. We’ve been investing in protocols like SMTP, RSS, XML, and SMS for years and expect to continue doing this. Sample companies include Authentic8, FullContact, JumpCloud, Moz, Return Path, SendGrid, Spanning, Urban Airship, and Yesware.
For a more comprehensive view of how we think about themes, take a look at the post What Is “Thematic Investing?”