Summary List Placement
Hello, and welcome to the debut of Venture Week, Insider’s weekly wrap of people from the startup and venture-capital universe who made news.
The entries below aren’t all necessarily the biggest news items of the week — we assume you’ve seen most of those. Consider this our curated people-centric tour of developments big and small from Silicon Valley and beyond. Here’s our beta version, with news from the past two weeks. Regular columns will come every Friday.
Rap kings: While much of the world was focused on the head-scratching news that Jack Dorsey’s financial-payment company, Square, was buying Jay-Z’s music-streaming startup, Tidal, for nearly $300 million, a West Coast music icon also scored big. Snoop Dogg’s portfolio took a decided upswing last week after the Swedish payment firm Klarna, one of the companies backed by his Casa Verde Capital, raised $1 billion in funding at a valuation of $31 billion. Just six years ago, Klarna was worth a little over $2 billion. Snoop’s investment dates back to 2019, when he began to diversify his focus from cannabis-related startups, as one does.
New jobs: New York’s ICV Partners announced that the former Coca-Cola executive Bill Ford joined the firm as a managing director in its portfolio-operations group. Ford, who will be in the firm’s Atlanta office, was the group director of venturing and portfolio management at Coke since 2017. Before that, he served from 2013 to 2017 as the general manager of TreeHouse Foods’ coffee business unit.
Movin’ on up is Maria Salamanca, who was just promoted to partner at Unshackled Ventures, according to a report last week by Crunchbase, which said Salamanca joined a small group of Latinx female partners at US venture firms. Unshackled invests exclusively in immigrant founders coming to the US, according to Crunchbase, and Salamanca herself came to the US as a Colombian refugee when she was 6 years old. She pivoted to an interest in venture funding while an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley.
Vasant Kamath recently joined Tech Square Ventures in Atlanta as a general partner. The firm recently opened a new fund focusing on early-stage investments in enterprise and marketplace tech startups. Before joining TSV, Kamath was a director at Primus Capital, a director at Cox Enterprises, and a senior associate at Summit Partners.
The social-media startup Reddit named Andrew Vollero its first chief financial officer last week as the company continued to “think about” going public. His most recent role was at the security company Allied Universal, and before that he served as the first CFO of Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, where he led the company through its $33 billion IPO in 2017.
That’s a lot of Robux: You could say the Roblox IPO went well this week. How can you tell? Greg Baszucki, the brother of founder CEO David Baszucki, has a stake worth more than $1 billion. David did alright, too: His stake is worth more than $4.5 billion. A few VC firms also picked up a few billion dollars of wealth, including First Round Capital, which wound up owning almost 7% of the company after taking part in a couple of modest funding rounds in 2009 and 2011. These are the moments that keep every VC’s dreams alive.
Hello, Cleveland: Cleveland Avenue, the food-focused VC firm run by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson launched a new $70 million fund that will invest in Chicago companies owned by Black, Latinx and women entrepreneurs, according to the Chicago Business Journal. The fund is called the Cleveland Avenue State Treasurer Urban Success Initiative and it will focus on founders in Chicago’s South and West Side neighborhoods.
Hippo, reinvented: You didn’t think we’d get through this without a SPAC mention, did you? Blank-check company Reinvent Technology Partners Z announced plans to merge with home insurance startup Hippo in a $5 billion deal to take the company public. Reinvent’s lead directors are LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus.
According to Pitchbook, Hippo has raised more than $700 million from investors, including Comcast Ventures and Fifth Wall, and was valued last November at $2 billion.
Buy bonds: Growth-stage VC firm Bond, the spinoff of Kleiner Perkins Digital Growth Fund led by former investment banker Mary Meeker, is closing a second fund to the tune of $2 billion, according to TechCrunch, which cited an SEC filing. Fund No. 2 is nearly double the $1.25 billion fund it closed in 2019. But, as TechCrunch noted, that’s not entirely surprising, given that Bond has been expanding its roster of investors and has a pretty good portfolio of name-brand growth-stage investments that tend to attract institutional capital: Slack, Uber, Snap, Waze — yep, those worked out pretty well.
It’s tough to be an indie: Indie.vc, which launched in 2015 as a pilot program by O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, announced last week that it was winding down. Indie.vc’s mission was to help so-called bootstrapped businesses that sought a modest capital infusion without the typical startup “hyperscale” roadmap. AOTV managing director Bryce Roberts, who cofounded the parent firm with Tim O’Reilly and Mark Jacobsen, told Axios, “There needs to be something that sits in between banks and venture capital blitz.”
Unfortunately, that view wasn’t held strongly enough by OATV’s limited partners, who were seeing unicorns created on a regular basis with their other VC fund bets. When OATV announced its fourth fund would focus on the Indie.vc model, it lost around 80% of its investor base, Axios reported.
The empire strikes back: The debate about whether Silicon Valley or New York are “over” continues to rage, with perhaps a bit of momentum retaken by the “actually, no they’re not” crowd. Case in point: A Bloomberg story this week about the bubbling up of regrets from Wall Street A-listers who recently moved to Florida and sort of wish they hadn’t — so much so that one (anonymous) hedge-funder went ahead and lit the fire: “The main problem with moving to Florida is that you have to live in Florida,” he said.
However, the most outspoken Silicon Valley expats have yet to express regrets. According to a PR spokesperson, PayPal mafia VC Keith Rabois is leaning into his Miami experience by teaching monthly classes at a Barry’s Bootcamp there, a national Crossfit-like chain on steroids. Its San Francisco studio became known as a hangout beloved by VCs, and by startup founders hoping to sweat their way into introductions with said VCs. Rabois is clearly trying to bring that same Valley swagger to his new home in South Beach.