Gil Penchina: from angel to ‘turbocharged scout’ for IDG Ventures

Gil Penchina, founder of Flight Ventures, the largest syndicate on the AngelList platform, joined IDG Ventures earlier this year as a managing director. But the move was made without much fanfare.

The San Francisco venture firm, which raised $120 million for its third fund in 2015 to invest in consumer and enterprise tech companies, added Penchina to its managing-director roster. That list also includes Alex Rosen, Pat Kenealy and Phil Sanderson.

Penchina’s move from super angel to institutional investor is surprising, given how active he’s been as an angel investor. Penchina says he’s invested in 100 to 200 deals via his syndicate on the AngelList platform.

Among them: Dollar Shave Club, which Unilever bought last year for $1 billion, and Cruise Automation, which GM acquired last year for about $600 million in cash and stock.

Penchina, a onetime eBay executive and former chief executive of Wikia, tells VCJ that after investing in so many deals via his syndicate, he was frustrated that he didn’t have the financing to continue investing in companies in Series A rounds and beyond.

He also said he’d like to spend more time with some of the companies he backs, which he can do via IDG Ventures. He said he has known Rosen since 1998 and has worked with the firm on deals over the past six years.

Although Penchina is no longer leading AngelList in syndicate deals, he is still investing as an angel. Just last month,, the Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, website-content manager, raised about $560,000 in a seed-stage financing that included Penchina’s syndicate network. said it is the first Canadian startup to close a round with the participation of an AngelList syndicate.

“I will invest through IDG in traditional rounds and take board seats, but I also view myself as sort of a turbocharged scout, bringing startups of interest to the firm,” said Penchina, referring to the industry term for “scouts,” or well-connected individuals who quietly back startups and then direct them to larger venture firms.

Action Item: Read more about Gil Penchina in his bio on the IDG Ventures website at

Photo of Gil Penchina