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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

Mike Lindell moves the goalposts on a run for Minnesota governor

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell waits outside the West Wing of the White House before entering on Jan. 15. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a possible gubernatorial run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is destined to continue at least a bit longer.

What he's saying: Lindell told Axios that his focus is currently on proving his (baseless) claims of election fraud. He won't make a decision until that fight is resolved.

Wall Street pencils in virus variants as latest economic risk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is pinning its bets of an economic rebound this year on mass vaccinations and a virus brought under control, but new coronavirus strains threaten that sunny outlook, a number of firms are warning.

Why it matters: None downgraded growth forecasts because of the variants, but they’re acknowledging there’s a new asterisk to the anticipated economic recovery.

Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.