On his blog this morning, New York City tech stalwart Charlie O’Donnell announced the creation of a new seed investment fund called Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. Mr. O’Donnell, who used to bike the 9.2 miles from his home in Bay Ridge to his last job—principal at First Round Capital in Union Square—says his is the first venture capital fund based in Brooklyn and that the borough “has the potential to be the very best place in the world to start a technology business.”
Business Insider‘s sources say Mr. O’Donnell’s fund will be $10 million. Betabeat has heard somewhere in the range of $10 million to $20 million and that Quotidian Ventures might be his first big LP, although Mr. O’Donnell would not return earlier calls to confirm. We have reached out to Quotidian and will update the post when we hear back.
For the past two years, Mr. O’Donnell, who founded Path 101, has been working at First Round, first as an entrepreneur-in-residence, and then, in November 2010, as a principal at the fund. On his blog, First Round’s managing director Josh Kopelman said his one-year term was extended “after witnessing Charlie’s hustle and energy firsthand.” He was particular critical to the firm, says Mr. Kopelman, in expanding its presence in New York as well as sourcing seven deals including GroupMe, which was acquired by Skype.
According to both Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. Kopelman, building his own investment firm has long been a goal.
“In fact, it’s what Henry Blodget told me I should do the first time I met him–back in May of 2007 during a pre-Business Insider lunch at Coffee Shop. Josh Kopelman said the same thing to me about a year ago and we’ve talked a lot about firm building in my time at First Round.”
At Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, the plan is to lead or co-lead seed rounds and helping with recruiting, PR, and product management. When we spoke in July about the tech talent crunch in New York, Mr. O’Donnell said he spent about a third of his time recruiting for First Round portfolio companies.
Another hallmark of his new fund? A Brooklyn state of mind. The Bensohurst native writes:
“Given that many of the companies I work with don’t even have offices yet, and that many of their founders and future employees live in Brooklyn, I won’t be surprised of the majority of the fund winds up being invested in Brooklyn startups. It’s a great place to build a business–creative, less expensive, flexible, etc. However, my goal is not to geographically limit the fund but to help create and leverage an ecosystem that connects and attracts talent and knowledge in such a way that people all over the city want to be a part of it. I want to erase the barrier to attending a Meetup in Brooklyn and make building here a bigger part of everyone’s consideration set. I’ll fund deals elsewhere for sure, but I hope to convince folks that you won’t want to be elsewhere.”
Any doubts about his street cred, just check out the urban brick background to his new website. Or this inspirational video: