Basel Bust? Artsy’s invite for its Art Basel party this year–thrown by Chanel–was positively littered with enticing cohosts. “On behalf of Carter Cleveland, Larry Gagosian, Wendi Murdoch, Peter Theil & Dasha Zhukova, we invite you to a beachside barbecue on Wednesday, December 5th in Miami Beach,” the invite said. Perhaps too enticing. “I ended up not going because it was such a shit show,” said one would-be guest. The tipster blamed the venue, noting that “the same thing happened last night at Amfar. It was a mess trying to get into the after party and there were 400 people waiting outside and inside it was a crowded mess.”
Typical for Art Basel, said the source, brushing off complaints. “Less so for tech startups :)” Too bad they missed Demi Moore’s highly gif-able turn on the dance floor next to Lenny Kravitz. Perhaps our partier will have better luck with Tumblr, which is hosting its own Art Basel extravaganza tonight.
In less than a week, you’ll be sitting on your parents’ couch with a belly full of booze and turkey watching shitty cable TV, because ain’t life grand? To tide you over until that wondrous day, we’re back with another batch of juicy rumors. Happy Friday!
Beer Me Storied New York venture capital firm Lerer Ventures knows its target audience. According to a tweet from Scoutmob cofounder Dave Payne, Lerer is hosting a beer pong tournament for some of the companies it has invested in. “just got invited to a beer pong tourney by one of our venture investors,” tweeted Mr. Payne. “that’s hard core @lererventures. well done.”
Competition at the tournament seems like it will be quite fierce. “hope you’ve been practicing,” responded Northeastern student Scott Edelstein. “i’ve seen@benjlerer win with his eyes closed.”
In fact, here’s proof:
The Third Degree
Silicon Alley Smackdown One of the many tech events on rain delay because of Hurricane Sandy was the Big Apple Smackdown ping pong tournament, whose guest list included an impressive number of familiar names from the New York tech scene. (Betabeat is one of the media sponsors, so we may be a little biased.) Among the techno-athletes scheduled to play was Gilt Groupe CEO–and soon-to-be Gilt Groupe chairman–Kevin Ryan. Apparently, we missed quite a show.
The tournament was scheduled for Sunday, “and I played on Friday and on Sunday just to get ready for it!” Mr. Ryan told Betabeat. Really? “Oh yeah, because I won a tournament about a month ago.” That was an invitation-only affair for ping pong ringers at the Hamptons manse of ABC Carpet & Home’s Ken Pilot. “You had to put $100 into the pot and the winner got two-thirds of the pot, so I was pretty excited about that,” Mr. Ryan enthused.
Earlier today, Lerer Ventures revealed that the early stage investment firm–a powerful, active force in growing New York’s startup ecosystem–has raised its biggest fund yet. While raw SEC filings first indicated that Lerer Ventures was raising $30 million, the deal closed at $36 million. That’s more than $64 million combined in less than two years.
Partners Ken Lerer, Ben Lerer, Eric Hippeau, and Jordan Cooper have backed some of the most high-profile companies from New York’s new class of tech startups, like Warby Parker, MakerBot, OnSwipe, and Birchbox. Lerer Ventures has also had a number of notable exits, like GroupMe (acquired by Skype), Mr. Cooper’s startup HyperPublic (acquired by Groupon), and Venmo (acquired by Braintree). In fact, the Huffington Post mafiosos–Ken Lerer and Mr. Hippeau are both veterans–have been so busy building “the largest infrastructure in New York for entrepreneurs” that they apparently haven’t had time to move Venmo into the “Exits” list on the firm’s website.
Betabeat spoke to Mr. Hippeau this afternoon after his firm’s new fund and why we’re in “the golden age for entrepreneurs in New York.”
Bjorking Your Bachelor Party As a sign of just how many bachelor parties an up-and-coming venture bro is obligated to attend, during a recent PandoMonthly panel, Thrillist Ben Lerer said if he had to pick a totally ordinary superpower, it would be making sure his wife was cool with him going to bachelor parties. (To be fair, it took him a long time to come up with it, so it might not be that high on his list.) Hopefully his better half was understanding about a recent trip Mr. Lerer took to Iceland celebrate the end of singledom for Spark Capital’s Mo Koyfman.
The recently promoted general partner invited a number of other techies for the festivities, including Eater.com cofounder Ben Leventhal and what looks an awful lot like Jakob Lodwick and Ricky Van Veen, who Mr. Koyfman would know from his days as an IAC executive “adult supervising” College Humor. Definitely present? Author and MSNBC cohost Touré! Mr. Koyfman tested hashtags for Instagramming his international excursion, trying out #koyfops before settling on #icemomo, although NYC yoga instructor Heather Lilleston also suggested #mochella.
Among the Natives David Karp put on his salesman hat this week and preached the Tumblr gospel in front of execs at an Advertising Week event. Karp pushed his company’s new approach to “native” non-intrusive marketing. He went as far as to call Tumblr the “brave new world.” The site now nets 27 million visitors a month and is expected to release some sort of earnings report this week, six months after ads started running on the site.
Pass The Popcorn MoviePass, a subscription service for unlimited movie-going, launched today, but is still invite-only. The app lets you check into a movie theatre, which then unlocks your MoviePass card. You pay at the credit card ticket kiosk using your MoviePass card, like you would with an ordinary card. The service is starting out at $29.99, which makes it a steal for New Yorkers because that’s a little under the price of two movies with popcorn in Manhattan.
For the Thrill of It
Roughly a year-and-a-half after closing its second $25 million seed stage fund, Lerer Ventures is in the processing of raising money for a third. An SEC filing, first noted by TechCrunch, says the size of the round is $30 million.
Although the Form D indicates that the early-stage venture capital firm has yet to sell, expect the round to close quickly.
Last May, it only took Lerer Ventures “a matter of weeks” to raise that $25 million from individuals and family offices. And that was before the highly-regarded New York City firm–launched by Huffington Post cofounder (and Betaworks and Buzzfeed chairman) Ken Lerer and his son Ben Lerer, cofounder of Thrillist–boasted a handful of exits.
Fresh off the heels of the news that Thrillist had raised a $13 million Series A, its men’s clothing retailer, JackThreads, announced exclusively to Betabeat today that it has hit one million orders.
“Our growth has been insane,” said Devon Giddon, Thrillist’s director of communications. “In 2010, we were processing approximately 8,000 orders a month and now we’re doing around 13,000 orders a week! And 60 percent of those orders are from repeat buyers.”
For the Thrill of It
It’s hard to be heads down when it’s hot out. Exhortations to “just keep shipping” trigger fantasies of sailboats; Friday afternoon happy hours just aren’t as appealing as sangria on a terrace in Spain. Besides–is there any surer sign of a healthy startup sector than tech stars taking lavish vacations? Read More
It was a very busy morning for Ben Lerer, the 30-year-old Lerer Ventures scion and CEO of men’s lifestyle brand Thrillist. The company announced yesterday that it had closed a $13 million series A, the first outside financing since Thrillist raised a $2 million seed round way back in 2005. Growing Thrillist from a Daily Candy-like daily newsletter to a men’s lifestyle empire with little venture capital in just seven years is no small feat.
“That’s the cool thing for me,” Mr. Lerer told Betabeat by phone this morning, his voice still colored with the excitement of closing a solid round. “That we were able to legit boostrap a business to 200+ people and $60 million in revenue without the money. It really gives me confidence that we have the right habits and the right discipline so that now that we have this money, we’re going to know how to spend it the right way rather than spastically run around spending it.”