VC

New VC firm aims to help with middle class problems.

A new VC firm aims to solve problems for people who live outside the wealthy Silicon Valley bubble.

Kairos, a venture capital fund and startup incubator, announced a $25 million fund devoted to investing in companies that are trying to solve the problems of the middle class. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Rather than backing companies that build products for the financially comfortable, such as $700 juicers or $1,499 tea infusers, it will fund companies looking to solve problems for the less comfortable: the shrinking middle class, people riddled with student debt, workers who have lost their jobs, and those worried about being able to afford childcare, retirement and healthcare as they get older.

Ankur Jain, who sold his company Humin to Tinder, has bankrolled the fund, and has been investing from $250,000 to $1 million to startups. Here’s the Times:

“Tech is in some ways more powerful than government now,” said Jain, who sees the fund as a way for Silicon Valley to solve some of the problems it either helped to create or exacerbate.

“A lot of the anger in this last election was about jobs, and people were getting angry about immigrants,” Jain said. “More jobs have been lost because of technology than immigration.”

The fund shares a similar philosophy to a growing number of venture capital firms — such as Kapor Capital in Oakland, Susa Ventures in San Francisco, and Trend Discovery in New York — that invest in companies that they believe can have a positive effect on society while also generating a return on investment.

But it also exists in part as a response to Silicon Valley’s penchant to build products that solve problems for the wealthy.

In launching the fund, Jain took a swipe at the now-defunct start-up Juicero, which raised $120 million in venture capital funding to build a $700 juicer. The company went bust this year after a Bloomberg video showed that juice could be extracted just as easily by hand-squeezing Juicero’s proprietary juice packets as with the $700 machine.

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