Why Has LA Suddenly Gotten So Much Attention from VCs and Entrepreneurs?

Both Sides of the Table

” in 2014 the data seems pretty conclusive because LA has now become the fastest growing tech startup region by numbers of companies being started and those of us here have noticed this pace accelerating. billion in venture capital to LA’s technology startups and 2014 will shatter that figure. If you throw in Oculus into the mix along with TrueCar, Rubicon, Burstly, Beats and others LA Tech has seen more than $8 billion in exits in 2014 alone.

How to Kick Start Your Community’s Startup Scene

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I just returned from 3 days in Cincinnati including attending the annual meeting of one of Upfront’s LPs – Cintrifuse. I have never been more optimistic about the impact that the tech startup community is having on cities in America or about the role that cities outside of San Francisco / Silicon Valley can play in our future.

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The Case for Optimism and Risk at Startups

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Mark Suster (@msuster) November 1, 2014. Last week a company we enthusiastically backed, uBeam , led by a very special entrepreneur, 25-year-old Meredith Perry , announced a $10 million round of financing. The press around the raise & company was fantastic and the promise of their technology – wireless charging that works as easily as WiFi – would positively affect many of our lives.

Some Reflections on VC Investment Decisions

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I told my friend that I felt that in 2014 too many new VCs feel the pressure to chase deals, to be a part of syndicates with other brand names and to pounce on top of every startup whose numbers are trending up quickly. I was having dinner with a friend last night and we were chatting about venture capital and a bit about what I’ve learned.

What Future for Accelerators?

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But by 2014 much had started to change. Accelerators have had quite a good run the past 5+ years. Not just Y Combinator and TechStars but a host of other accelerators across the country. I have been involved with a high profile one in Los Angeles – Launchpad LA – and we’ve decided to make a shift so I thought this was a good time for reflection. My good friend Adam Lilling and I started Launchpad more than 5 years ago . We had a specific goal in mind.

The Very First Startup Founder You Need to Invest in is You

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This week I wrote about obsessive and competitive founders and how this forms the basis of what I look for when I invest. I had been thinking a lot about this recently because I’m often asked the question of “what I look for in an entrepreneur when I want to invest?”

How VCs Think About Adding New Partners

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Let me start with the news that I’m excited to share with you. After years of trying to persuade Kara Nortman to become a partner at Upfront Ventures I can officially announce now that she’s joined us effective immediately. I have known Kara for 7 years and knew almost immediately after meeting her that I wanted to work with her one day in some capacity. Thus began my marketing campaign.

In Defense of Uber: An Unbiased Opinion

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The story on Uber has been written about ad nauseam, which is why I’ve been reluctant to weigh in. But enough people have asked my perspective so I decided to weigh in with my non-conformist view. I love Uber and I don’t believe there has yet been a real scandal. Grievances – yes. But scandal? I’m not so sure. For starters – I’m not an investor in Uber. I wish I were. I had a chance to be in the seed round and unfortunately didn’t do so.

Please Help Me Congratulate Jordan Hudson as @UpfrontVC’s Newest Investment Principal

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Our theme for 2014 is “teach a firm to fish” where we build more scalable support for portfolio companies. Happy official New Year’s, all. It’s that time of year where we think about new beginnings. And there’s none that makes me happier than to announce that Jordan Hudson has been promoted to a Principal at Upfront Ventures. Please help me congratulate him by Re/Tweeting this post (and following him if you don’t already).

The Audacious Plan to Make Electricity as Easy as WiFi

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When I first met Meredith Perry she was 24. That was three months ago this week. Today I’m handing her the largest A-round check I’ve ever written as a VC as we lead her $10 million A-Round at uBeam. As I’ve written about recently, at Upfront Ventures we started talking a couple of years ago about wanting to fund stuff with more meaning.

Why We’re Looking to Fund Stuff With More Meaning

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Venture Capital is a tricky industry. If you’re funding the same stuff as everybody else and if you started your activities when the clues were obvious you’re much less likely to drive enormous returns. When Fred Wilson funded Twitter I guarantee you it wasn’t obvious that it was a billion dollar idea. Far from it.

Bad Notes on Venture Capital

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This week. On the phone … Me: So, you raised venture capital? Him: Yeah. We raised a seed round. About $1 million. Me: At what price? Him: It wasn’t priced. We raised a convertible note. Me: With a cap? Him: Yes, $8 million. Me: Ah. I see. So you did raise with a price. It’s just a maximum price. You’ll find out the minimum when the next round is raised. Him: Huh? Last week.

What Would Happen if you Built the Reverse of Amazon? It Might Look Something Like This …

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Amazon. It’s the company that evokes fear into more startups and venture capitalists looking to fund eCommerce businesses than any other potential competitor. Every pitch I’ve ever seen has led to the, “Would Amazon eventually do this? And could we then compete?” ” type questions. But what if you could do the reverse of Amazon? Amazon was early in spotting a macro trend – that physical, local retail had a few key disadvantages.

Here’s Why a Booming Tech Market May Fool You into Thinking You’re Successful

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Since 2009 we’ve been in an unequivocal bull market. Venture capitalists have raised increasing amounts of money from their investors (LPs) every year. An impressive number of new VCs have been created – most of them with new seed funds. We’ve had an explosion of alternate sources of financing from crowd-sourcing, angels, accelerators, incubators, corporates, corporate incubators. And importantly we’ve had revenue.

Here is How to Make Sense of Conflicting Startup Advice

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Everybody has a blog these days and there is much advice to be had. Many startups now go through accelerators and have mentors passing through each day with advice – usually it’s conflicting. There are bootcamps, startup classes, video interviews – the sources are now endless. What is a founder to do?

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Upfront Ventures Raised New $280 Million Fund

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We also promoted Jordan Hudson to principal in 2014 and have encouraged him to begin looking at deals. We’ve been dying to tell you all for a while that we had raised a new venture capital fund and of course given SEC filing requirements the story was somewhat already scooped by the always-in-the-know Dan Primack a few weeks ago. We raised $280 million.

US Crowdfunding in 2014

Gust

The post US Crowdfunding in 2014 appeared first on The Gust Blog. Crowdfunding is the practice of raising money for a project or venture from a large number of people utilizing an Internet website or platform. Funding from each individual can be quite small, $10 or less, although some projects have much higher minimums. Projects include films, musical recordings, new companies, products, inventions, personal causes and many others. Since the JOBS Read more >.

Why Your Startup is More Likely to Succeed if You’re Authentic and Passionate

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In my Twitter bio is says that I’m “ looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs ,” which almost sounds like I was just looking for a cliché soundbite to describe myself. Yet along with “authenticity” they are two of the key attributes I look for when I meet with companies I may consider funding one day. Passion is also the featured heavily in nearly every presentation I give to entrepreneurs or on college campuses or in talks with MBA students.

Why I’m Standing Today with My African American Friends, Family & Colleagues

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John Green (@johngreen) December 4, 2014. “It stops today.” ” I spent the entire day yesterday in a deposition so I was offline from the world around me – a rare day of no email, no social media and even no news. I had been awake since 5am, returned home from work at 9:15pm and was exhausted with my only goal of decompressing and tuning out from the world. I could not. I barely slept last night.

A Seriously Great Story and Why We Funded Them

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We are often asked how companies get funded, why VCs make the decisions we make and what we’re looking for in entrepreneurs. I think this is a Seriously great example of how this process works for at least one VC – Upfront Ventures. But I’m guessing the narrative is similar elsewhere. I first met Andrew Stalbow , the founder & CEO of Seriously in August of 2013. He hit me from two very trusted sources.

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What is the Right Burn Rate at a Startup Company?

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I was reading Danielle Morrill’s blog post today on whether one’s “ Startup Burn Rate is Normal. ” I highly recommend reading it. I love how transparently Danielle lives her startup (& encourages other to join in) because it provides much needed transparency to other startups. Danielle goes through some commentary from Bill Gurley, Fred Wilson and Marc Andreessen about burn rate and then goes on to discuss her own burn rate and others publicly weigh in.

Putting Tom Perkins Comments into Context

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Tom Perkins is one of the founding members of the venerable venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins. He just had his Mitt Romney moment and his name will forever be etched in the collective consciousness of the tech community for this terribly insensitive and tone deaf letter to the Wall Street Journal. The headline of Mr. Perkins letter to the WSJ? Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?

How I Got the Monkey Off My Back – Today Was a Good Day

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” So it’s now March 2014 – 5 years since I started investing. Here is the first 3 months of 2014 … . At a minimum, I’m glad to have the “exit question” off my back in 2014. I become a venture capitalist in September 2007 – exactly 6.5 years ago.

Why ADD Might Actually Benefit Startup Entrepreneurs

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This weekend I was reading the NY Times online and I came across this excellent piece about ADHD written by Richard Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry.

Why I Doubled Down on YouTube Investments with MiTú

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Yesterday MiTú Networks announced that Upfront Ventures led a $10 million financing in what is now the largest producer of Latino online videos – primarily driven through YouTube. As you may know we co-lead the first round of financing of Maker Studios, the largest overall producer for online video content, along with Greycroft Partners.

When VCs Play Defense

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Somehow the world seems to be spinning faster these days than just a few years ago. The frantic pace of technology cycles, the amount of tech news, the blogs, the conferences, the demo days, the announcements, the fundings, the IPOs. It’s exhausting. Perhaps unsustainable. It got me thinking about the advice that I often give to new VCs.

Why I Look for Obsessive and Competitive Founders

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Obsession. The drive to succeed at all costs. When second place isn’t good enough because we live in winner-take-most markets. The desire to be better than anybody else in one’s field. This blog started from a series of conversations I found myself having over and over again with founders and eventually decided I should just start writing them.It would often make my colleagues laugh because they’d hear me like a broken record and then the next week read my ramblings in a post.

What is the Definition of a Seed Round or an A Round?

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Marc Andreessen kicked off another great debate on Twitter last night , one that I’ve been talking about incessantly in private circles for the past 2-3 years – what actually IS the definition of a seed vs. A-round. This is something I think entrepreneurs don’t totally understand and it’s worthwhile they do. My view: “Spending any time or energy trying to game the ‘definition’ of your round of fund raising is a total waste. Nobody cares.

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Finding an Investor Who is in Love with You

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I often talk about what I’m looking for when I meet with an entrepreneur. Above all else I’m looking for a genuine passion for what the entrepreneur is doing. It’s even a direct quote in my Twitter bio. Of course passion isn’t enough. You need a set of innate skills that differentiate you from the thousands of others who set out on your similar journey.

Understanding the Underbelly of Online Marketing & Why You’ll Lose if You Don’t

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Yesterday I wrote a post about “ growth hacking ” and why I thought it was wrong that people were hating on the term unnecessarily. It’s worth a quick read. My argument is pretty simple. If you’re a technology startup you need to excel at product, of course. But being best-in-class at online marketing is also a sine qua non to standout from your peer group.

Here’s How to Do PR on a Budget

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This is especially true in a booming market (like 2014) where PR firms can charge premiums and be super selective about whom they work with. Yesterday I wrote a post about The Silent Benefits of PR in which I pointed out that most young companies I encounter don’t fully grasp the benefits of PR because they are less measurable than product milestones or customer acquisition analyses (like CAC/LTV).

Three Words Entrepreneurs (and VC’s) Should Take to Heart

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Note: this is a non-religious post. This weekend was Yom Kippur, holiest of the Jewish holidays and the day of atonement. It’s also the day when most Jewish minds are least focused since one needs to fast for 24 hours. I sat in schul listening to the rabbi’s sermon and given my mind is prone to ADD anyways I must admit that my consciousness often floats around the room but even more so on Yom Kippur.

What I Would Look for When Choosing a VC – Knowing What I Know Now?

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Picking a VC is hard. You don’t really have much to go on to decide who would make a good fit. Reputation of firm? Of partner? Deals done in your industry? It’s a bit of all of these. I had an enjoyable conversation this morning with a young team straight out of college this morning and they were calling to ask advice on how to approach fund raising (angels vs. VCs, how to select a VC, etc.) and I realized that without years of experience it is tough to answer this question.

The Silent Killer – The Company Your Community Never Created

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I was at a dinner recently in Chicago and the table discussion was about building great companies outside of Silicon Valley. Of course this can be done and of course I am a big proponent of the rise of startup centers across the country as the Internet has moved from the “infrastructure phase” to the “application phase” dominated by the three C’s: content, communications and commerce. But the dinner discussion included too much denial for my liking.

How to Deliver More Software Projects On Time

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There’s an old joke in software development, “How much time does it take to design software?” ” Answer: As long as you have scheduled for the design phase. I know. Not funny, “ha, ha” but pretty apropos. If you’ve been involved with a number of software projects you already have an intuitive sense for this. We’ve all been involved with projects that seem to drift and drift and make progress.

Why Most of Your Assumptions About Phone Calls are Wrong

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billion by 2014. If you follow the tech media you would be subject to a lot of narrative biases that are completely off base – and this includes the value of email and phone calls. TL;DR. Tech news keeps proclaiming “phone calls are dead,” which is useful except that the data suggests the exact opposite. Calls are changing but not dying.

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Why You Don’t Want to Give Financial Information to All of Your Investors

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We all know that funding markets have changed for startups. The trends are well understood: more angels, more seed funds, more crowdsourcing and so forth. We all can intuit the benefits to founders of these trends so there’s little reason to elaborate. What is less understood are the consequences of these changes.