When South Park Commons (SPC), a community of tens of engineers in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood, came together, it mostly flew under the radar, save for a New York Times profile in 2017, a year after it was formed.
Founded by Facebook’s first female engineer, Ruchi Sanghvi, she explained at the time that her ambition with SPC was to create tech’s answer to the Bloomsbury Set or Benjamin Franklin’s Junto club, where people could discuss their respective and shared experiences and hopefully form new ideas along the way.
Fast forward and SPC — which went on to raise a $55 million venture fund in 2018 to back projects born by community members — says the experiment is working. It now has 450 members in the Bay Area and across the globe. It just closed a new $150 million fund from tech luminaries, as well as institutional investors.
It says it also has a highly valuable portfolio. In fact, says Sanghvi, SPC’s debut fund has already returned its capital — and then some — to investors owing to Compound Labs, an open-source platform for decentralized lending whose tokens were distributed in part to early shareholders. Sanghvi says SPC has 10 to 12 other so-called unicorns across its portfolio, too.
We chatted earlier today with Sanghvi and her husband and business partner, Aditya Agarwal, who was also an early engineer at Facebook before cofounding with Sanghvi a startup they sold to Dropbox in 2012 in a reported talent acquisition. (Sanghvi stayed two years as Dropbox’s VP of Operations; Agarwal, who joined as Dropbox’s VP of engineering, was promoted to CTO in 2016 and left in 2018, joining Sanghvi at South Park Commons.)
We talked at some length about the evolution of the SPC community, which began in a physical space, has largely become a highly structured virtual society during the pandemic, but that remains very focused on bringing people together in real life.
Indeed, Sanghvi and Agarwal believe so strongly in the power of offline interactions that in addition to their San Francisco hub, a New York location is currently in the works and they suggest that other locations…