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Pioneer Fund has held an initial close on its debut fund, which is targeting $20 million, according to managing partner Jason Gray. Its investors are Y Combinator alumni, and its strategy is to back other YC alumni startups.

Network effects: Since its 2005 launch, Y Combinator has coached hundreds of startups, including notable successes like Twitch, Dropbox, Cruise, and Airbnb. It's no surprise that alumni entrepreneurs are investing their own money into others in the network.

  • Jason Gray and Jared Heyman are leading the fund, with dozens of YC alumni already on board as investors and advisors (you can't do the former without also doing the latter). The fund isn't formally affiliated YC.

Pioneer is far from the first instance of YC alumni using their new wealth to invest. Others have done so as angel investors, via AngelList syndicates, and by forming more traditional VC firms like Initialized Capital, although the latter doesn't exclusively invest in YC startups.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

4 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.