Entrepreneur First (EF), a United Kingdom-based scaleup investor in early stage founder talent, said Wednesday it has raised a $158 million Series C funding round from a group of veteran technology founders, including Patrick and John Collison, Reid Hoffman, Taavet Hinrikus and Matt Mullenweg.

Bucking the trend of mounting layoffs and diminishing venture capital volumes across the startup world, owing to fears of a looming recession, the host of successful entrepreneurs and founders are backing EF to unlock opportunities for a diverse set of new global founders, EF said in a statement.

“EF has demonstrated that talent investing in Singapore is thriving. Over several years, we’ve backed hundreds of individuals to transform their vision into world-class companies. This fundraise enables us to scale our proven approach into new investment areas to serve Southeast Asia’s emerging generation of outlier founders,” said Bernadette Cho, Partner, EF Singapore.

Locally, the Series C will accelerate EF’s talent investing blueprint in Singapore with three new pillars: product, reach and funding. EF Singapore will be introducing new products at different stages across the founding journey, expanding its reach to emerging and aspiring founders across Southeast Asia, and offering an exclusive and accelerated path to global funding to leverage top international funds for exceptional local talent.

EF’s impressive global roster of backers includes, John and Patrick Collison (Co-Founders of Stripe), Taavet Hinrikus (Co-Founder of Wise), Reid Hoffman
(Co-Founder of LinkedIn), Matt Mullenweg (Co-Founder of WordPress), Tom Blomfield (Co-Founder of Monzo and GoCardless), Nat Friedman (former Chief Executive fficerO of Github), Sara Clemens (former Chief Operating Officer of Twitch and Pandora), Matt Robinson (Co-Founder of Nested and GoCardless), Patrick O’Shaughnessy (Positive Sum), Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman (Co-Founders of Deepmind), Sten Tamkivi, Elad Gil and Lachy Groom.

The cash — raised as a funding round, rather than a ‘fund’ — will be used to make investments into new startups as well as allow EF a capacity to experiment and innovate on how best to fund the next generation of entrepreneurs by launching new products aimed at upending the typical venture capital model.

“Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. The idea of taking strangers and helping them start robust and ambitious companies is no longer radical but
essential to power the next stage of innovation,” said Matt Clifford, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of EF.

“The whole EF thesis is finding individuals who otherwise might not start companies and then trying to accelerate their journey to success. EF is completely unique in the early-stage funding landscape. Our whole effort focuses on talent rather than typical venture capital deal flow. We don’t try and win deals, we don’t pick deals, we find great people. That brings big strengths. The ability to partner before there even is a company is both a relationship and an economic strength,” he added.

EF is also announcing on Wednesday that the aggregate value of companies created through its platform in Singapore now exceeds $1 billion and globally, $10 billion.

Founded in 2011 by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck in London, EF is a category-defining investor in entrepreneurial talent. It operates as an early-stage investor, helping talented people find co-founders to partner with ahead of launching startups. The company has offices in London, Toronto, Paris, Berlin, Bangalore and Singapore, and it now employs 120 around the world.

Its portfolio companies have been backed by world-leading investors, including Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, Softbank and GV (formerly Google Ventures). Exits from the portfolio exceed $680 million and include Magic Pony Technology (acquired by Twitter); Passfort (acquired by Moody’s); Credit Kudos; Bloomsbury AI; Scape; Atlas ML (Papers With Code); and [Sonantic (acquired by Spotify)].

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