Twitter Co-Founder Starts Venture Firm for Early-Stage Companies

Twitter Inc. co-founder Evan Williams is starting a new venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments centered around issues such as sustainability and health.

The firm, called Obvious Ventures, is raising money for its first fund and has already backed 11 startups, according to co-founder James Joaquin. Founded earlier this year, Obvious Ventures aims to finance young companies with about $1 million to $5 million at their initial funding rounds, he said.

This is Williams’ second venture-investment project since he stepped away from day-to-day duties at Twitter in 2011 to work full time at his startup incubator, Obvious Corp. The venture firm, like the incubator, seeks startups focused on sustainability, health and technology for small businesses, Joaquin said.

“Those startups are going to deliver phenomenal financial returns -- and they’re going to have massive positive impact, whether that’s environmental impact or social impact,” Joaquin said. “The way to invest is to invest in startups that combine profit and purpose.”

Along with Williams and Joaquin, Obvious Ventures’ other co-founder is Vishal Vasishth, a former executive at Revolution LLC. Williams is also chief executive officer of Medium, a blogging service.

Obvious Ventures has made investments in Magic Leap Inc., a virtual-reality startup that’s also backed by Google Inc. Obvious has also funded Loup Inc., a ride-sharing service for public transportation, Miyoko’s Kitchen, which creates plant-based cheeses, and payroll-software provider ZenPayroll Inc.

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