The PICO Venture Partners team. Photo courtesy of the firm.

Israeli-based PICO Venture Partners this week said that it closed on its $80 million second fund.

Co-founder and Partner Gina LaVersa said in a telephone interview that most of the investors in the first fund participated in the second fund, which took 18 months to raise.

“The fund came in really strong, and we were able to add a handful of new relationships, too” she said.

PICO will invest in as many as 12 to 15 new companies out of the fund over the next two to three years, she said.

The average deal size will range between $1 million to $3 million, though she said the firm will also make smaller seed investments as well as participate in later-stage deals.

And LaVersa noted the partners will also hold back a portion of new capital raised for existing investments that are “moving along.”

The four-year-old, early-stage venture firm now has $130 million assets under management, with investments in 15 companies, most of which are located in Israel.

Elie Wurtman, Todd Kesselman and LaVersa co-founded PICO, and the firm now has offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as New York.

Earlier, Wurtman served as a general partner at Benchmark Israel for six years and spent three years at Jerusalem Venture Partners as CEO of JVP Studio, according to a news release.

Kesselman and LaVersa previously worked together as investment bankers in New York before founding an investment firm with $2.5 billion of capital, the release noted.

PICO’s 15 portfolio companies include Vroom, a New York-based company that operates an online market for buying and selling refurbished used cars.

PICO led Vroom’s initial investment round and LaVersa said it has added funding in follow-on rounds. The six-year-old company has now raised more than $440 million in seven rounds. Other investors in the company include Baltimore-based asset management group T. Rowe Price and the venture firm General Catalyst.

Other PICO investments include Spotinst, a tel Aviv startup that helps companies cut the cost of cloud computing, and Gloat, a New York-based AI-powered HR and career development platform operator..

In May, PICO participated in $8 million Series A round in ChargeAfter, a New York online financing website that features different lenders. Propel Venture Partners led the round, which also included the Plug and Play accelerator and Synchrony.

LaVersa said PICO prefers to lead deals.

“We want to engage with entrepreneurs as early as we can, and we like to form very collaborative partnerships,” she said.

However, she added that the firm will also participate in a funding round with other investors.

LaVersa said PICO has had one “partial exit” with Spotinst, which occurred in 2018.

The company recently moved its headquarters to San Francisco from Israel as it continues to enjoy a rapid growth curve.

She said Israel continues a good place to make venture deals. She described Israel as “a country with no shortage of entrepreneurs who are using technology to create positive change.”

“There are lots of people with good ideas who are looking for capital,” she added. “It’s really an exciting place to be.”

“The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and embedded in the culture,” she said. “They are very creative, and big problem solvers. They’re not afraid to take chances. And they know how to persevere. It’s part of the national identity.”

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