Emerging manager GFT Ventures beats target for debut

Korea Venture Investment Corporation is among at least 94 investors in the AI-focused firm's debut fund, which closed on $140m.

GFT Ventures, a new firm co-founded by a former AI chip executive and a veteran VC, has closed on $140 million for its debut fund.

The firm, based in Palo Alto, California, did not disclose the names of investors, but at least one LP is the Korea Venture Investment Corporation, which committed $5 million, according to data from affiliate publication Buyouts (subscription required).

GFT began fundraising in March 2021, held a partial close on $81.3 million from 75 investors in March 2022 and held another close in April 2023, bringing its fundraising total to $117 million from 94 investors, according to regulatory filings.

The SEC filings do not list a target amount for Fund I, but Buyouts data shows the firm was aiming for $100 million.

GFT, which is short for Global Frontier Technology, makes seed and Series A investments in companies located in the US and Israel that are focused on artificial intelligence, data science and other areas of frontier technology.

It already has 10 companies in its portfolio. Investments include Artisight, which makes an AI-powered “ambient intelligence system” for smart hospitals; Mars, which operates a data-driven autonomous trucking company; and Mperativ, which offers an AI-based revenue marketing platform.

GFT was co-founded by Jay Eum and Jeff Herbst. Eum previously co-founded TransLink Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm that today has more than $850 million. He was also the founding managing director of Samsung Ventures, leading US venture capital operations for Samsung. He started his VC career at the Silicon Valley office of Vertex Management, the Singapore-based venture capital arm of investment firm Temasek Holdings.

Herbst spent 20 years as Nvidia’s vice-president of business development, “where he built an ecosystem of accelerated computing applications spanning the domains of AI, data science, autonomous machines, and graphics and visualization,” according to his bio. During his time at Nvidia, Herbst created the Nvidia GPU Ventures program, where he oversaw more than 40 investments and 20 acquisitions, and also led the Nvidia Inception global start-up accelerator, which has grown to over 10,000 AI, data science and high-performance computing companies.

“We are incredibly excited to launch Fund I and embark on this transformative journey in the realm of AI and other frontier technology investments,” Eum said in a statement. “Jeff and I have been friends and co-investors for over 20 years, and we forged a deep bond through our early morning workouts at a Bay Area boxing gym for over a decade.”

Both Eum and Herbst are listed as founding managing partners on the GFT’s website, but only Eum is identified as a member of the general partner in the regulatory filings for GFT Ventures I LP.