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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thanks to companies like AngelList and Carta that make it easier than ever to set up small VC funds, a new generation of so-called “super angels” is cropping up — and established venture funds are backing them.

Why it matters: Just like the boom in scout programs a number of years ago, it’s all about the deal flow.

Between the lines: “A founder will go to other operators first before they go to South Park or Sand Hill Road,” one industry insider tells me of larger venture funds' desire to get these entrepreneurs and execs into their networks, either as scouts or by backing their funds.

  • A number of established VC firms are backing other tiny funds, including Sequoia Capital Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Felicis Ventures, and Index Ventures.
  • While some like Bain have more established programs, others invest more ad hoc.

What they’re saying: “We’ve talked about doing a scout program … ultimately this feels more efficient as a process,” Felicis Ventures’ Katie Riester tells me.

  • Felicis has backed about a dozen other funds over the years and has backed four startups it met through them.
  • A partner at another major VC firm says about a fifth to a quarter of new deals come through either the firm’s scout program or the funds it’s backed.

For the super angels themselves, the upside to being a traditional scout for a VC fund is their independence and the ability to make their own name.

  • At the same time, these established firms often act as mentors and even invite them to co-invest in certain deals.

Yes, but: This approach is not new — rather, wider industry trends plus the availability of new tools appear to be allowing this new take on the scout model to flourish.

  • Plus, even some firms that do invest in these small funds caution that they’re not interested in becoming funds-of-funds, suggesting this will remain a niche part of their investments.

Go deeper

Biden to sign 15 executive actions on Day One

President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to sign 15 executive actions upon taking office Wednesday, immediately reversing key Trump administration policies.

Why it matters: The 15 actions — aimed at issues like climate change and immigration — mark more drastic immediate steps compared with the two day-one actions from Biden's four predecessors combined, according to incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.