Monsanto could be winding down its venture arm as team moves on
May. 1, 2018
This news comes amid rumblings that Bayer's acquisition of Monsanto is coming in for a landing - though reports that the deal has been conditionally approved by the US Justice Department in the Wall Street Journal are unconfirmed by either party.
MGV was founded in 2011, and for most of its life has operated as a three-person team including Hamer, Stead, and Rakestraw.
AgFunderNews has confirmed that Hamer and Stead left Monsanto to join San Francisco-based VC Data Collective's (DCVC) new biotech-focused fund.
According to an SEC filing, DCVC Bio is looking to raise $250 million for the new fund, of which they have raised nothing as of the filing on April 19. DCVC Bio will invest in agriculture and other biocomputing technologies.
DCVC has made several agrifood tech investments in the past, generally focused on the application of big data analytics to agriculture. These investments include Gro Intelligence, Descartes Labs, Plenty, Zymergen, DroneDeploy, Ginkgo Bioworks, Naio Technologies, Blue River Technology, Pivot Bio.
DCVC also recently invested alongside MGV in Atomwise, a company that develops artificial intelligence systems for molecular discovery.
Hamer and Stead will continue managing the existing portfolio including committing follow-on investments to the startups in the portfolio when they raise further rounds.
Rakestraw announced his move to Singapore's state fund Temasek last month. A venture principal at MGV since early 2015, he will focus on agriculture and food-related venture capital investments in his new role as associate director at the fund. Temasek is an investor in cellular agriculture startups Perfect Day Foods and Modern Meadow, fish feed tech startup Calysta Energy, delivery startup Zomato, plant-based burger company Impossible Foods, and seed company VoloAgri, among others.
MGV has been one of the more most active corporate venture offices coming from the major strategic players in agriculture. It was the second most active corporate venture office in 2017 behind Syngenta Ventures, according to AgFunder research.
Monsanto confirmed Hamer and Stead will continue to manage the portfolio but also said the company is searching for replacements. "We have initiated an internal and external search to backfill these roles. [Monsanto's] Technology Strategy & Investments Lead, Bob McCarroll, has been a member of the extended MGV leadership team over the last year and will oversee this transition," said a Monsanto spokesperson to CrunchBase.