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Spark Capital startups are seeing soaring valuations and big exits.

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  • Spark Capital was one of the big winners when Uber announced its acquisition of restaurant delivery service Postmates for $2.6 billion on Monday.
  • The venture capital firm has invested in other major hitters in the startup world, including Slack, Plaid, and Mirror, the fitness tech startup that was sold to Lululemon for $500 million.
  • It’s unclear how big Spark’s return on Postmates will be.
  • The fund raised $1.35 billion earlier this year in order to fund other early and growth-stage startups.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When Uber announced the acquisition of restaurant delivery service Postmates for $2.65 billion on Monday, one of the big winners was Spark Capital, a venture capital firm that was one of Postmates’ first backers. 

Spark led a $16 million investment round in Postmates in 2013, and participated in several subsequent funding rounds, resulting in what is likely a hefty return. Just one week before the Postmates news, Mirror, a fitness tech startup that was also a Spark investment, sold to workout-apparel brand Lululemon for $500 million.

And Spark has had several other successes in recent months, making for a remarkably bright streak in a challenging year marked by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn.

Earlier this year, Spark raised $1.35 billion to fund early and growth-stage startups, according to the Wall Street Journal.

With offices in Boston and San Francisco, Spark was founded 15 years ago, making it a relative youngster among VC firms. But it has quickly proved itself: According to a recent study by Pitchbook, Spark’s $360 million Capital III fund was among the ten best performing funds launched between 2010 and 2012.

The firm, founded by Bijan Sabet, Santo Politi and Todd Dagres, focuses on early and mid-stage “growth” companies. Some of its earlier hits include Twitter, Tumblr, and Foursquare. 

Nabeel Hyatt, a partner at Spark Capital, wrote in a blog post that the firm was drawn to Postmates, back when the Postmates app was known as Get It Now. Hyatt, who was an early investor at the time, said he joined the Postmates board as one of its earliest members, and worked closely with Postmates CEO Bastian Lehman.

It’s unclear exactly how big Spark’s return on Postmates will be. A representative for the company did not return a request for comment.

As companies continue to work remotely, workplace productivity tools like Slack are also having their moment. But Spark was way ahead of the curve, as it participated in Slack’s $160 million Series E round in 2015. 

Here’s a look at some of Spark Capital’s recent big wins:

Plaid:

In January, Visa acquired fintech startup Plaid for $5.3 billion. Spark Capital partner Santo Politi contributed to the startup’s Series C funding round, which raised $250 million in December 2018. 

Mirror: 

As gyms remain shuttered across the country due to fears of contracting coronavirus, people are looking to work out at home. The workout-apparel brand Lululemon acquired New York-based startup Mirror, the Spark Capital-backed fitness outfit that delivers interactive workout classes through its interactive mirror. Spark Capital led the $13 million funding round in 2018, when Mirror was still in stealth mode.

Sonder: 

Spark Capital recently raised $170 for Sonder, the hospitality startup that is seen as one of Airbnb’s rivals, in its Series E funding round last June. The company is reportedly valued at $1.3 billion. 

Nylas:

After acquiring June.ai last March, Nylas, a startup that helps people integrate emails using APIs, received $25 million in funding from Spark Capital this past June. 

Warby Parker: 

Warby Parker, the trendy retailer that sells prescription glasses and sunglasses, is also part of Spark Capital’s portfolio. And while many retailers are struggling to withstand the economic blow dealt by the coronavirus pandemic, Warby Parker’s strategy has always focused on letting customers pick and choose their favorite pair of glasses from the comfort of their homes.   

JFrog:

DevOps startup JFrog, valued at $1.2 billion, added board members last April as it made preparations for going public in late 2020 or early 2021. Spark Capital participated in the startup’s Series D round, which was led by Insight Partners and raised $165 million in October 2018.

Grammarly:

Grammarly, the software company that uses AI to improve your writing, is valued at over $2 billion. Spark Capital, along with other high-profile VC firms such as SignalFire and General Catalyst, raised $110 million for Grammarly in 2017.

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