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Zero Prime Ventures Raises Second Fund to Back Even More Engineer-Founders From Company Inception

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Yang Tran joins firm to help invest $48 million fund backed by Founders Fund, AngelList, Foundation Capital and more

Firm prepares for largest Data Council event to date, lighting up Austin for three days dedicated to all things data

SAN FRANCISCO, March 20, 2024-- Zero Prime Ventures (previously Data Community Fund), the firm that writes the first checks for day zero engineer-founders, today announced its second fund as well as the addition of new Partner Yang Tran. Tran previously served as a Principal at Speedinvest, based out of Germany. He has relocated to San Francisco to work out of Zero Prime’s home office to begin making investments out of Fund II. Started by serial entrepreneur, engineer and Data Council founder Pete Soderling, Zero Prime’s Fund II will place a particular emphasis on generative AI tooling, alongside the firm’s core data infrastructure and machine learning focus.

“A whole new world of tooling is emerging to help teams build AI-based applications that are based not just on text, like Large Language Models (LLMs), but that are multi-modal and use video, audio, speech and images together to create novel and immersive experiences. In fact, we're in the thick of it already,” said Pete Soderling, founder of Zero Prime and the Data Council community. “The most interesting thing about this particular platform shift is that developers are still in the throes of figuring out what the new ‘AI stack’ looks like which is creating a whole new wave of infrastructure investing opportunities.”

Zero Prime’s new $48 million fund will continue focusing on the very earliest stage data-oriented companies launched by deeply technical founders. Fund II continues to attract many of the world’s most prominent VCs and data experts, including Olivier Pomel, CEO of Datadog; Jordan Tigani, CEO of Motherduck; David Aronchick, co-creator of Kubeflow; Wes McKinney, co-founder of Voltron Data and co-creator of Apache Arrow; as well as firms like AngelList, Bain Capital Ventures, and Foundation Capital. Zero Prime also welcomed Founders Fund to its roster of investors. To date, the firm has put its money to work in top companies across the data, devtools, and AI landscape, including Hex, Motherduck, Hightouch, Anomalo, Dagster, Acryl Data, Decodable, HoneyHive, and many more.

“In a sea of emerging managers, Zero Prime stands out because of the tight-knit Data Council Community,” said Joanne Chen, General Partner at Foundation Capital. “Pete has developed an unparalleled network of technical founders, and he’s part of the earliest conversations on data advances. He’s also an entrepreneur himself, so he can identify which engineers are best suited to lead and can connect talent to create a successful business. We have made several investments in Zero Prime companies and look forward to deepening our relationship.”

Zero Prime + Data Council Uniquely Support Engineer-founders

The Fund II news comes as Zero Prime prepares for Data Council Austin 2024, the enormously popular global event series started by Soderling that unites the data and AI talent communities; it brings data's most influential makers, doers, and thinkers together. This year, more than 700 people will attend to shape the future of data innovation at every layer of the stack. The three-day event features more than 100 speakers who will share a wealth of technical data experience. The largest meeting to date will provide outstanding opportunities for engineer founders to gain technical insights from the biggest, most respected names in data, develop industry partnerships, secure funding, and find operational support.

Data Council Austin 2024 will also mark the event’s first AI Launchpad. Engineer-founders of startups at the pre-incorporation or pre-seed stages (raised between 0-$1M) building AI-related B2B companies at the application or infrastructure layer can apply to demo their technology or concept on stage. Six companies will be chosen to present in front of the Zero Prime team, additional investors, and elite founders, allowing them to gain exposure and support.

Investing From Day Zero

Soderling has been building Data Council since 2013, working to bring more technical founders into the startup ecosystem by investing from the moment of company inception, even pre-incorporation. Yang Tran also supports this thesis. As part of Europe’s Top Seed Fund of 2023 at Speedinvest, Tran devoted the last five years to early-stage technical founders.

Soderling and Tran see that Zero Prime can make a significant impact on the future of data infrastructure, AI & ML platforms, devtools, blockchain, and cloud tech as they begin to expand the team and their investment capacity. With access to engineer-founders through Data Council, Zero Prime is an active part of conversations that lead to ideas that lead to companies. The firm is there to help brilliant engineers who may know little about running an actual business. Zero Prime introduces technical founders into its community and writes their first check (typically between $500,000 and $1.5 million).

“My co-founder and I met Pete through Data Council, and by the end of our first conversation, he’d made introductions to several people that could take our concept to the next level,” said Todd Persen, CEO and co-founder of Era Software, which was acquired by ServiceNow. “Pete offered to write our first check because he believed in what we were doing, effectively jump-starting our earliest funding round. This removed significant pressure and numerous pain points in our early days, and Zero Prime has been there every step of the way.”

“Pete believes in engineers and their ability to change the world,” added Jordan Tigani, CEO of Motherduck. “He was there with us from the beginning of the company and has been instrumental to our success.”

To learn more about Zero Prime, please visit zeroprime.vc.

To join the data community at the Data Council conference in Austin on March 26-28, please go to https://www.datacouncil.ai.

About Zero Prime Ventures

Zero Prime Ventures (formerly Data Community Fund) invests in Day Zero data-oriented companies launched by deeply technical founders. We focus on startups with a clear technical differentiation in data science, ML, AI, deep learning, analytics and data infrastructure. Our deep domain expertise and unique network help engineer-founders succeed in building transformational data companies.

About Data Council

Data Council is the first vendor-neutral international event series that bridges the gap between data engineers, scientists, analysts, AI researchers and technical product managers. We are the largest independent network of data professionals around the globe. We host events in multiple cities worldwide and run a YouTube channel featuring more than 600 talks with technical data leaders. Learn more at www.datacouncil.ai.

Contact:
Leigh Disher
leigh@gmkcommunications.com

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