VC firm Urban US rebrands to Third Sphere, doubles down on climate focus – TechCrunch

Urban USA is three funds deep in an eight-year venture capital journey focused on climate technology. The company originally had a focus on the built environment, which it described as “redesigning cities for climate change.” Over the years, Urban US realized that his name was pretty damn confusing (“No one could figure out how to pronounce it”) and finally decided to pull the trigger on a name change. Farewell Urban US, hello Third Sphere.

“If you ask people what ‘urban’ means – in the US – you get a very broad spectrum. Some of it is anchored in the 1970s. Low income, music, it’s kinda amazing. The name should be inclusive, urbanized, different. We put our entire accelerator online and at one point we said, ‘Hey, this is actually a whole different process now’, and when we look at our portfolio there’s a lot more happening,” said Shaun Abrahamson, co-founder and managing partner at Third Sphere. “Once we look at our portfolio, there’s a lot more going on. It is very clear to us that we are doing climate work, but it is not immediately apparent from the outside. We were concerned that there are some categories of climate experts who are unsure whether to speak to us – that’s not good.”

All the reasons for the name change make sense, but as we’ve observed across the industry, making a name change stick is tough. People still refer to Google when they mean Alphabet and let’s not include Meta/Facebook in this particular conversation. For the artist formerly known as Urban US, however, it might make more sense than most. I’m amused how it removed the “i” from Third in its logo (perhaps a gentle nod to the phrase “There is no I in Team, perhaps?”), and of course the overall name is a nod to Planet Earth is the third stone from the sun. I also enjoy referring to spheres from an intimacy perspective – the first sphere is your home and family. The second sphere is the public – the media, the discourse that takes place in politics. What Happens When You Have a Global Conversation? Would that be the third sphere? Very smart.

“What I find funny is that a lot of climate change coverage focuses on politics at the national level. But the interesting action is all local. If someone drives to Amsterdam and says, “Holy shit, you can actually do that!” In the 1970s, it was a car-centric culture — it was basically LA — and then the city took action. People are copying it – Paris will do it, Milan will do it. Even New York — if you went to New York in the 1990s, you would think there would be no room for pedestrians,” says Abrahamson. “Especially when it comes to things like micromobility, everything is local interaction. It’s a major talking to another major and saying, “We’re going to do this” — that’s change on the ground. It’s very pragmatic. You can be re-elected because you can use a lot of these things quickly. I think it’s actually very well aligned in terms of the timelines. Even in New York, when they set up bike lanes, they told everyone it would be temporary and reversible. Now of course they will never do it the way it was again.”

It will be interesting to see if Third Sphere manages to shift its investment focus and industry reputation as a result of the name change.

VC firm Urban US rebrands to Third Sphere, doubles down on climate focus – TechCrunch Source link VC firm Urban US rebrands to Third Sphere, doubles down on climate focus – TechCrunch

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