Investments will continue to transform significant industries spanning the next generation of computing, automation, infrastructure, logistics, decarbonization, and engineered biology
PALO ALTO, Calif. – December 14, 2023 — Playground Global announced that it has raised $410 million in new capital, bringing the firm’s assets under management to more than $1.2 billion. Playground Global is an early-stage, deep-tech venture firm investing in transformative technologies and founders building category-defining businesses. Similar to Fund II, capital deployments in Fund III will focus on Seed and Series A companies with initial investments ranging from $1 million to $20 million across next-gen computing, logistics, automation, infrastructure, decarbonization, and engineered biology. Playground has already made several investments from Fund III, including d-Matrix, Ideon Technologies, Amber Bio, Infinimmune, and Atomic AI, along with other portfolio companies operating in stealth.
Since its inception, Playground has funded companies developing the foundational layers of emerging technologies. With an exponentially growing gap between appetite for computation and what Moore’s Law can deliver, Playground backs companies defining the next generation of compute. These advancements will pave the path for innovation across all sectors.
Life sciences is experiencing its industrial revolution, and Playground is investing at the nexus of next-gen compute, AI, synbio, automation and complex data generation tools to build the biotech ecosystem of the future.
“We are witnessing a great acceleration in the development of consequential technologies with entirely new classes of computing, AI, and automation, driving innovation across material science and drug discovery,” said Peter Barrett, co-founder and General Partner at Playground Global. “In 2023 alone, we’ve seen Relativity Space launch the first 3D-printed rocket to space, Universal Hydrogen flew the world’s largest hydrogen-powered plane, and Amazon announced that it will begin testing Agility Robotic’s bipedal robot, Digit, for use in their operations. We’re thrilled to back these companies that are making an impact, today, and for generations to come.”
Playground seeks out founders and technologies that will establish the foundational layer of industries, old and new. Take the field of artificial intelligence where Playground invested early in the foundational layer of hardware & software. In 2016, Playground partnered with Neuroscientist Naveen Rao to bring Nervana Systems, the first AI hardware accelerator, to market, and the company was quickly acquired by Intel. Ahead of the AI revolution, in 2021, Playground had the privilege again to partner with Naveen Rao and MosaicML, a company training and deploying large language models on the enterprise’s internal data. In June 2023, Databricks acquired Mosaic for $1.3 billion, the largest acquisition of a generative AI company to date.
Beginning in Fund II and continuing with the new funds, Playground has refined and expanded its life sciences thesis to focus on founder-led engineered biology startups, building the future of emerging modality therapeutics development and unlocking AI/ML workflows to refactor drug development. General Partner Jory Bell and Venture Principal Benjamin Kim have led investments within this vertical, backing segment-leading companies including Ultima Genomics, Strand Therapeutics, Manifold Bio, and Outpace Bio.
“Life sciences is experiencing its industrial revolution, and Playground is investing at the nexus of next-gen compute, AI, synbio, automation and complex data generation tools to build the biotech ecosystem of the future,” said Jory Bell. “To date, we’ve only been able to understand biology in relatively simplistic terms. Untangling the profound complexity of life requires scaled deployment of AI, which in turn relies on generating tremendous volumes of high quality relevant biological training data. This will underpin a new era of safer, more effective medicines across a broad swath of indications.”
Playground Global’s team includes over 40 people, many of whom have technical backgrounds and leverage their expertise to identify and support technology companies. The skills of the investment and technology teams are complementary to those of the operating and platform teams, which ensures support for areas including capital formation, business development, talent, and marketing at the earliest stages.
“Deep technology is no longer a synonym for slow technology,” said Bruce Leak, co-founder and General Partner at Playground Global. “We are at a tipping point, witnessing companies transform major industries rapidly. We look forward to supporting founders with hands-on experience, a community of entrepreneurs and operators across business functions, and office space as they develop commercially viable products at scale.”
About Playground Global
Playground Global is an early-stage venture capital firm investing in entrepreneurs who have developed breakthroughs in frontier technologies that will transform existing industries and create entirely new verticals. Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Playground invests across deep tech and science, including automation, infrastructure, engineered biology, and decarbonization — all underpinned by the next generation of compute. Playground’s bench of technical and operational experts supports founders in developing their deep tech technical breakthroughs into transformational businesses. Playground has been an early – and frequently the first investor – in companies like PsiQuantum, Relativity Space, Ultima Genomics, MosaicML, d-Matrix, Strand Therapeutics, and Universal Hydrogen. Learn more at playground.vc.
Katja Gagen, Operating Partner, Marketing and Communications