Bill Ford’s VC firm powers ahead with $100 mln second fund

Fontinalis Partners, the seven-year-old venture firm co-founded by Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, announced it has raised a $100 million second fund.

With the close of Fontinalis Capital Partners II, the firm now has than $165 million under management,

Fontinalis, which has offices in Detroit and Boston, expects to invest in a total of 15 to 20 companies out of the fund over the next three years in seed and late-stage deals.

Fontinalis has already achieved a first successful exit in the fund with the sale in June of fleet management software startup Telogis to Verizon Communications for an undisclosed amount. The firm had invested in the company in September 2014.

Fontinalis, which was founded in 2009, invests in various stages at what it calls the next-generation mobility sector, which includes connected vehicles, data and analytics, location-based services and new mobility models. Its portfolio includes Elementum, Lyft, and Zendrive, among others.

A more recent deal is the firm’s participation in a $16 million Series A round in Cambridge, Massachusetts-based nuTonomy, which hopes to launch the first fully autonomous taxi service in 2018. Highland Capital Partners led the round, which included participation from Signal Ventures as well as Fontinalis.

Chris Stallman, a principal at the firm, said Fontinalis counts 23 startups in its portfolio, including nine companies that came out of its $49.5 million first fund.

In addition to Ford, who’s the great-grandson of Henry Ford, co-founders include Ralph Booth, Chris Cheever, Chris Thomas and Mark Schulz.

Stallman said that although co-founder Ford is one of the scions of the automotive world, the venture firm operates independently, with no ties to Ford Motor. In fact, he said the firm doesn’t focus on cars, but looks at investing opportunities across the entire global transportation sector

“We’re interested in all modes of transportation, and the whole spectrum of mobility, everything from roads to rails and from bikes to cars and fleet management to supply chains,” Stallman said.

He said that the name Fontinalis was taken from a hunting and fishing club in rural Michigan where Ford likes to take time off, and where he developed some of his investing ideas linking sustainability with mass transportation.

“When we first looked at this area it was a bit sleepier than it is today,” he said, pointing to the rapidly growing interest in such sectors as autonomous and connected cars, as well as software and related services. “Of course, now there is a lot more investor interest in all aspects of mobility.”

Tom York is a San Diego-based contributor. He can be reached at

Photo of hundred-dollar-bills courtesy of ©iStock/Irochka_T