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During a year when everything we thought we knew about workplaces changed, we’re extremely proud to share that Cogo Labs has been awarded “Best Place to Work” honors by Built in Boston.

In any year, at any time, it’s a thrill to win a “Best Place to Work’’ award. Coming after one of the most challenging years in modern history, it feels like a particular cause for celebration. A vibrant culture is something we pride ourselves on, and we put a lot of effort into supporting desirable workplaces for the talented teams in the Link ecosystem.

This is the mission statement for Built in Boston, “Our vision is to connect the world through a shared passion for tech and the human need for purpose.” …

Mourning Seth Birnbaum, EverQuote Co-founder and CEO

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Seth Birnbaum, EverQuote Co-founder and CEO

Those who are familiar with Link Ventures and Cogo Labs know that we strive to foster a people-focused culture. Yes, we depend on our data assets, but their potential can only be fully realized through the minds and hands of inspired — and inspiring — entrepreneurs. Our focus on teams sparks a camaraderie that makes many team members as tight as some families.

We find ourselves reeling from the loss of one of our own. Seth Birnbaum, CEO and co-founder of EverQuote, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday.

From his company’s statement: “Seth was a genuine, dynamic leader whose remarkable passion, vision and tenacity attracted the world-class team we have in place today, which serves as the foundation for EverQuote’s success. We will be forever grateful for his entrepreneurial spirit and the welcoming and caring environment he cultivated.” …

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Autumn in our beloved Boston.

This year’s business challenges have certainly changed the way the world thinks about processes. What was “par for the course” in January of 2020 may never again be viewed as our “normal” (new or otherwise); and what we considered as “thinking outside of the box” back in March is now table stakes. Yet as we all approach the time of year when much of the world celebrates a holiday centered around giving thanks, the members of our Link Ventures team realize that we have ample stores of gratitude worth sharing in these final weeks of 2020.

  • We’re grateful for the amazing entrepreneurs who run our portfolio companies — leaders who drive their businesses to become ten times better than peers in their verticals. Our team relishes the challenge of finding and connecting with still other companies with that 10x factor, to create more opportunities for co-marketing and co-distribution. …

That was one of the questions posed by Dr. Alex Wissner-Gross at our annual Friends of Link Ventures event last month. He spoke about getting to the point of artificial general intelligence — AI that is so advanced that language models can teach us new language models. We’re very close to that point, according to Dr. Wissner-Gross, because of the availability of large data sets.

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Live Q&A between Dr. Wissner-Gross and Link Managing Partner Dave Blundin

What will AI that advanced look like on a practical level? It means, for example, that an AI copywriter would cost approximately 2,500–25,000 percent less than a human writer on a per-word basis. …

Finding ways to make meaning in a complicated year

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For the past several years, we have hosted an offsite with portfolio company CEOs and a select group of investors and influencers. It’s a highlight of the business year for us, and one of the ways we use to mark both the passage of time and our own success toward our goals.

In this year of WFH, we didn’t get to meet in our usual home in Vermont. …

Venture firm bringing big data to help startups scale

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Link Ventures is pleased to announce its newest investment, modern estate planning startup Trust & Will. We are leading the round with participation from existing investors including Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, WTI, Halogen Ventures, Luma Launch, and Techstars Ventures.

We are thrilled to have Trust & Will join our portfolio of rapidly growing digital technology companies who can benefit from our unique and large consumer big data assets.

Trust & Will is a pioneer in this market, having completed the first electronic will (e-will) in the U.S. earlier this year.

Historically, the cost of estate planning has been out of reach for all but the very affluent. ($2500+). With Trust & Will, estate planning is now within reach of millions of consumers at a price point that the everyday family can afford. …

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Some of the KSA Board members before a boat ride on the Charles.

Drop into Cambridge’s Kendall Square any time and you’ll see the unique culture at work. More than 30 industry sectors make this area home, chief among them technology. Since it’s also home to Link Ventures, Cogo Labs, and the companies that we are growing, we are quite involved in Kendall Square’s growth and the activities of the Kendall Square Association.

Our own John Werner, Managing Director at Link and CNO of Cogo Labs, represents both at KSA Board meetings. The Board has set ambitious goals, which John is helping to achieve. They are working to develop Kendall Square’s brand as a global innovation center in general and a place where ideas can flourish in particular. …

Own Up is disrupting the consumer mortgage industry

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OwnUp Co-founders (from left to right): COO Mike Tassone; CTO Brent Shields; CEO Patrick Boyaggi

Some updates following on from our recent funding announcement; over the next 2–3 years, our portfolio will consist of companies launching out of Cogo Labs, as well as companies founded outside our incubator. The Fund’s first investment is an external company that is disrupting the consumer mortgage origination market: Own Up.

A bit of background on Own Up: they are disrupting the mortgage industry with a proprietary pre-approval software that delivers qualified leads to local banks, allowing them to save on commissions while passing savings down to borrowers in the form of lower interest rates. To date, Own Up has been responsible for nearly $1B in loan volume in its first three years with only $5M in prior funding, which is more than any other mortgage company has accomplished in three years, and with significantly less capital. …

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Link Ventures, a Cambridge-based venture capital firm, has received more than $100 million in capital commitments for its Link Ventures 2 fund. LV2 will invest in early-stage consumer internet companies, following up on the success of Link’s first fund.

“We are delighted to have such a distinguished list of limited partners who have trusted us with their hard-earned capital and believe in our differentiated big data and technology advantage,” said Link Ventures Founder and Managing Partner Dave Blundin. “We will use this capital to invest in remarkable startups.”

The investment team includes veteran investors and entrepreneurs Rob Chaplinsky, John Werner, Dominic Lloyd, Matt Rita, Bill Ferguson, and Mira Wilczek, CEO of Link’s startup incubator, Cogo Labs. …

Multiple Link Ventures Companies Named “Best Places to Work” by Boston Business Journal

The scene was bustling with 1,200 attendees, representing 79 finalists, packed into the Seaport District’s World Trade Center for the Boston Business Journal’s Best Places to Work awards. It was an all-evening gathering that began with an interactive outdoor lounge, extravagant circus entertainers and a host of lawn games. After months of survey collection and data crunching, the event concluded with a final awards ceremony to honor the city’s most vibrant workplaces.

Link Ventures was immensely proud to witness Mira Wilczek accept honors on behalf of Cogo Labs (a Link subsidiary), which hit the leaderboard its first year on the Best Places to Work list, ranking 8th out of the 20 finalists for mid-sized companies. Other award winners from within the “Link-verse” were two portfolio companies: Vestmark, which received 3rd place in the large company category, and Jobcase, which earned an outstanding 1st place finish among mid-sized companies! …

About

Link Ventures

@Link_Ventures — VC firm investing in internet + tech companies. Proud parent company to @CogoLabs. We are the Link between conception and realization…

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