A new filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) confirms that Toronto-based Georgian Partners is looking to raise what would be Canada’s first $1 billion CAD private venture fund.
If Georgian hits its target, this would not be the first time that the VC firm has made the record books.
Filed on Thursday, the document shows that while Georgian has yet to close any funding it is seeking to raise $750,000,000 USD (which, at the time of publication equates to more than $995,000,000 CAD) for its fifth fund, Georgian Partners Growth Fund V.
As The Globe and Mail first reported in June, reaching the $1 billion CAD mark would make Georgian’s fund the largest private venture fund in Canadian history. If Georgian hits its target, this would not be the first time that the VC firm has made the record books. In August 2018, Georgian closed one of the largest VC funds in Canadian history for its fourth fund, hitting $714 million CAD ($550 million USD).
Georgian was founded in 2008, and over the last 19 years has backed some of Canada’s top startups including Top Hat, Shopify, FreshBooks, and Ritual. When it was founded by Justin LaFayette, Simon Chong, and John Berton it focused on applied analytics software, with the co-founder’s bringing years of experience in software, working for companies like IBM. Since then, the firm has shifted focus to make investments in artificial intelligence, focusing on applied, conversational, and trust-based AI.
The VC firm currently houses a team of 40, with LaFayette, Chong, and Berton as its managing partners. In 2018, Georgian doubled the size of its partner team, bringing on three (all male) general partners, Tyson Baber, Steve Leightell, and Madalin Mihailescu.
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According to The Globe’s reporting, a key aspect of Georgian’s funding model is its “impact team,” which includes applied research scientists, analysts, and engineers. The impact team is meant to help Georgian’s portfolio companies “take advantage of foundational tech trends” by helping to develop software tools that AI companies can use to improve their ability to anonymize customer data and explain how their algorithms make decisions.
Closing $70 million on its first fund in 2010, Georgian also raised $200 million in its Fund II and $485 millioN for its third fund. To date, the firm has invested in 41 companies, recently leading a $53 million CAD Series C round for Toronto-based Fiix and a $45 million round for Montreal-based TrackTik Software.
Georgian has been mum on its investors in the past, not disclosing LPs in its fourth or third funds, but previous supporters have included the BMO, Cisco Systems, Kensington Capital Partners, Northleaf Capital Partners, and Teralys Capital, as well as support from the federal government’s Venture Capital Action Plan (VCAP), which has since been supplemented by the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI). Despite the lack of transparency on who invests in Georgian, one current (undisclosed) investor told The Globe earlier this year that there will likely be strong interest in the fifth fund.