Avinash Raghava, partner at Bengaluru-based Together Fund, has stepped away from his role at the SaaS-focussed fund to focus full time on SaaSBOOMi
Partners and fund managers at VC giants are feeling the heat from LPs and their portfolios amid the slowdown and many have quit to launch their own funds
LP confidence has been severely dented by the potential cases of fraud at startups and other due diligence-related issues since early 2022
Avinash Raghava, partner at Bengaluru-based Together Fund, has stepped away from his role at the SaaS-focussed fund according to a company statement on Tuesday (March 21).
Raghava has moved on from Together Fund to take up the role of CEO at SaaS collective SaaSBOOMi, according to a blog post by Together Fund.
Together Fund’s statement mentions that there was a need for a full-time leadership role at SaaSBOOMi, along with the need to create a governance council independent of Together Fund. “So while on one hand we say goodbye to Avinash from Together, on the other side, we welcome him with open arms as the new CEO of SaaSBOOMi,” Mathrubootham and Garg said in a joint statement.
The fund did not say who would be replacing Raghava to lead the operations. Together was launched in July 2021 by Freshworks’ cofounder and CEO Girish Mathrubootham and Eka Software Limited’s Manav Garg, Shubham Gupta (ex-Matrix Partner) and Avinash Raghava with a corpus of $85 Mn.
Inc42 learnt about Raghava’s departure from Together Fund a couple of days back, on reaching out, Raghava routed us to Gupta, who asked us to speak with Garg. A day later, Together announced the same in an official blogpost.
SaaSBOOMi is a collective of more than 3,500 SaaS startups and made a return as a physical event this year. However, it must be noted that as per sources, Raghava’s new role as a CEO would be no different from his current responsibilities at SaaSBOOMi, which he had founded along with Mathrubootham and Garg.
According to sources close to the collective, Raghava more or less led SaaSBOOMi for the past few years. Given its big return this year, it’s natural that Raghava has been appointed as the formal CEO as the platform looks to scale up.
Given that Together Fund’s central focus is on SaaS investments, there is bound to be some overlap between its portfolio and the SaaSBOOMi community. Raghava had been working on SaaSBOOMi since he joined Together Fund in mid-2021.
“When Avinash joined Together Fund in 2021, his responsibilities at the firm were not just to build a community around our fund but also to continue to work on SaaSBOOMi,” the blog post read.
Sources close to SaaSBOOMI indicate that the overlap between the two roles did cause some friction between the various stakeholders, including the potential for conflict of interest.
An industry veteran, Raghava has been working in India’s startup ecosystem for the past two decades, having worked with NASSCOM for nine years before joining Paytm in 2012.
He left Paytm later that year to found iSPIRT Foundation to empower India’s software-focused startups. In 2017, Raghava ventured into venture capital, joining Accel as a community platform evangelist. From there, he moved on to Together Fund in 2021, building SaaSBOOMi during that time.
VCs Hit By Controversies
Raghava’s departure from Together Fund comes at a time when funds across the world are going through major changes.
In the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse and a year full of corporate governance issues, general partners and fund managers at venture capital funds are also feeling the heat from limited partners (LPs) and their portfolios.
Even as startup investments have become a real opportunity for high net worth individuals and institutional investors, incidents such as the GoMechanic fraud and the liquidation of Zilingo have dampened the enthusiasm considerably.
LP confidence has been severely dented by the potential fraud at GoMechanic, and other due diligence-related issues since early 2022 at startups such as BharatPe, Zilingo, Trell and a slew of corporate governance problems at startups where investors are on the board. Further, the likes of Infra.Market and WazirX have seen probes from taxmen.
Limited partners in funds, including the likes of Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) which invests in alternative investment funds (AIFs) are now grilling VCs about their due diligence process, how irregularities have escaped their audits, and also looking at the track record and other interests of fund managers.
Losses are not uncommon in the VC world, but LPs have been asking questions about frauds and other malpractices that could invite potential legal trouble, complicate LP disclosure norms and introduce greater scrutiny from government agencies.
Besides these governance issues, many partners at VC funds are quitting from growth and late-stage funds to launch early-stage vehicles that are better suited to capitalize on the current opportunity and the state of the market. According to industry estimates, more than 80 micro VC funds are now active in India, and increasingly partners from larger funds are floating smaller funds to start their own fund-managing careers.
The most prominent example in recent months is John Curtius, who quit as a senior partner at US hedge fund Tiger Global in October 2022 and plans to launch a fund that would focus on Series A to Series C rounds.
Similarly, another crossover investment giant, Coatue Management saw the departure of general partner Matt Mazzeo, who reportedly quit to float his own early stage fund.