Finance, transportation players power UP.Partners’ first VC fund to $230m

Seeing lots of empty shelves lately? UP.Partners may not be able to help your favorite big box store or neighborhood bodega right now, but making supply chains more efficient is one of the things this venture capital firm plans to put its war chest to work on.

A group of investors at the intersection of the transportation and finance industries came together to power the Santa Monica, California-based firm’s inaugural VC fund to a $230 million close this week.

The investors include Woven Capital, a growth-stage investment fund launched with $800 million in September 2020 by the Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development to fund new technology and advanced safety systems; ARK Invest Founder and CEO Cathie Wood, investing in her personal capacity; global real estate developer Hillwood, one of the key holdings of the Perot family; Alaska Air Group; and ship management company OSM Maritime.

These seemingly disparate entities found common ground thanks to the UP.Summit, which since its 2017 launch has been hosted in alternating years in Bentonville, Arkansas, and Dallas, co-hosted by Steuart and Tom Walton, grandchildren of Walmart Inc. founder Sam Walton, and Ross Perot Jr., respectively. And the idea that brought them all together was UP.Partners’ vision to fund innovative enterprises in the transportation and logistics industries, with a focus on speed, safety and clean technologies.

“We are proud to partner in moving this revolution in transportation forward,” said Ross Perot Jr., who labeled the UP.Summit as “the Davos of mobility.”

Betty Bryant, principal at Woven Capital, said, “Transforming mobility through technology is central to the mission of Woven Planet, and UP.Partners’ investment strategy is in complete lockstep.”

L-R: Up.Partners Co-managing Directors Adam Grosser, Cyrus Sigari and Ben Marcus (provided)

UP.Partners was co-founded by Ben Marcus and Cyrus Sigari, who already had a successful track record as co-founders of business aircraft marketplace jetAVIVA and AirMap, an automated air traffic management platform for drones and flying cars. Adam Grosser joined the firm as co-managing partner and chairman after spending a decade in charge at Silver Lake Kraftwerk, the impact strategy of Silver Lake Partners. Ally Warson, formerly of ACME Capital, rounds up the firm’s leadership team as principal.

UP.Partners has already made 10 investments, including in flight autonomy company Skydio, manufacturing quality assurance leader UnitX, and electric vertical aircraft developer Beta Technologies, whose CEO, Kyle Clark, credited UP.Partners for his company’s recent closing of a $400 million investment round led by Amazon Climate Pledge Fund and Fidelity. “UP.Partners uniquely understands the potential and scale of new air mobility and brings visionaries together to realize that potential unmatched by other venture investors,” he said.

Examples of future investments UP.Partners will eye include package delivery drones, electric vertical aircraft for urban air mobility, sustainable aviation fuel, ultra low cost LIDAR sensors and advanced manufacturing techniques, according to a press release.

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