There’s a new player in town.
Point72 Private Investments, the institutional private investments business of the global hedge fund led by billionaire Steve Cohen, is quickly growing in the Seattle region as it looks to invest in tech startups.
The group has 13 employees based in the area and plans to have a team of around 20 people by the end of this year.
“One of the things we thought we could bring to the Seattle ecosystem was a stage-agnostic large fund that can do everything from the first $2 million in a company, all the way up to a Series D,” said Point72 partner Sri Chandrasekar, who moved to Seattle in 2021 to help establish an outpost.
Point72’s venture capital investors were previously split between New York City and the Bay Area, where Chandrasekar was based. As remote work took hold during the pandemic and startup founders began spreading across the country, Point72 wanted to expand its footprint.
It opened an office in Miami and Seattle, where it was drawn to the tech talent, said Chandrasekar.
“We hadn’t made any investments here,” he said. “That to me felt like a mistake.”
The firm is following a trend of out-of-town investors eyeing the red-hot Seattle and the Pacific Northwest market for investment opportunities. Even with a record amount of venture capital flowing in Seattle in 2021, many still believe the market is undercapitalized, especially once companies get beyond the seed stage.
Seattle-area companies in its portfolio include Stoke Space, a Redmond, Wash.-based reusable rocket company, and LockStep, an accounting startup that was acquired last year.
The firm declined to provide specific estimates on planned investments in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest for 2023.
Chandrasekar, who previously worked at In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA, said one of his early observations of the Seattle market is that founders aren’t thinking big enough.
“Everyone is looking to get acquired by Amazon or Microsoft, instead of being the next Amazon or Microsoft,” he said. “The talent is here. It’s just a matter of getting them to think a little bigger about the opportunity size that they’re chasing.”
Chandrasekar and his family have enjoyed life in Seattle so far. He heard of the notorious “Seattle Freeze” but has already made more friends than he did during his eight years in the Bay Area.
“I think a lot of people were resetting their social network in the last year,” he said. “They hadn’t seen a bunch of people, they’re figuring out who to hang out with. And that’s made it really easy to meet people and make friends.”
Chandrasekar also helps run Point72 Hyperscale, the company’s private equity arm that focuses on applied AI.
Other Point72 investors in the Seattle area include Eddie Kang, a partner who is focused on growth stage investing.
Point72 is currently working out of a temporary WeWork space in Bellevue, Wash., near Seattle, but plans to move into permanent office in downtown Bellevue this year.