The Third Degree
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.”
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.
Hyperpublic, the two-year-old startup helmed by Lerer Ventures partner Jordan Cooper, has been acquired by Groupon for an undisclosed price.
On Friday, Mr. Cooper teased the news with a few ellipses on Twitter before linking to the announcement. “Today is an INSANE day! We are so proud to announce that Hyperpublic has been acquired by the rocket ship that is Groupon,” Hyperpublic wrote. “This is a huge win for our team, our investors, and everyone who contributed to our company over the past two years.” Then there was a party at The Standard, natch.
Dibsie is a dynamic shopping catalog that learns users’s tastes and then surfaces products based on that data. It was founded by Garren Givens, Dylan Fareed and Scott Poniewaz, who previously worked together on CampusDibs, a daily deal site aimed at the college market.
Learning a user’s preferences in order to recommend him or her better products is a space that has seen a lot of activity in New York recently. Hunch was acquired by eBay to power just that sort of highly-personalized experience. Meanwhile, The Fancy just nabbed a $10 million investment from the biggest fashion brands on the planet to connect users’s taste in web surfing with luxury e-commerce.
Dibsie wants to play with both those models. Like eBay, it will be in part a self-serve platform, where small businesses can go to upload their products alongside more established brands. The company launched at the New York Tech Meetup in August and since then have added hundreds of small businesses that use Dibsie as a platform for their offers.
It’s time for the fourth installment of our first original webseries, The Pitch. This episode features Markover, a startup founded by Kelsey Falter, who is making her way in the New York tech scene and finishing her undergrad at Notre Dame to boot, completing a degree in graphic and product design.
Ms. Falter grew up in a entrepreneurial household watching her mother run a small business. Now she is working on Markover, a service that allows users to comment anywhere on a page, creating a layer of live conversation around online media.
Hyperpublic is a relatively new startup with a very ambitious agenda, to organize the world’s geodata and in effect index online what exists where in the physical world. To get there, the company will have to pair a huge machine learning and big data effort with a killer consumer product that layers on great metadata.
In many ways this project resembles the work being done by Joe Einhorn at thingd. Mr. Einhorn is trying to be the “thing” layer on the web, tagging every object in every image, whether it’s part of a Conde Nast photo spread or a personal blog about toy cars. Except Hyperpublic is going after the people, places and things in the real world.
To make this all happen, Hyperpublic has hired Jeff Weinstein as their President. Mr Weinstein was head of R&D at Comscore and was reportedly being recruited by Google before Hyperpublic snapped him up.
When the news broke yesterday evening that Skype acquired hometown start-up GroupMe, New York’s digerati took the party to Twitter. Indeed the acquisition and its hefty price tag, which Betabeat’s sources pegged between $50 million and $100 million, caused such a stir among a certain swath of tech circles that “GroupMe” even made into a New York City Twitter trending topic last night–albeit below penetrating questions plaguing tweeters such as, “Chris Brown OR Justin Bieber.”
The deal was the first major exit for Lerer Ventures, Thrive Capital and BoxGroup’s David Tisch, so much of the tweeting action consisted of ebullient pats on the back. But a few notes of skepticism arose from the din. In case you were too busy watching Libyan rebels end a 40-year dictatorship, here’s what you missed.
Death of Blogging
The idea that blogging is bad is borderline sacrilege in New York, where Fred Wilson, Charlie O’Donnell, Chris Dixon, Nate Westheimer, numerous founders and every biz dev hustler in town post regularly–on Tumblr, at the very least–and hold up the blog as the paragon of self-promotion.
Boo, luminary Keith Rabois says.
“I have invested in nearly 75 companies, no more than 2 of the founders have an active blog, maybe less,” Mr. Rabois tweeted on Wednesday. He thinks blogging has a low return and entrepreneurs and investors should spend their time on more productive things, he told founder, venture capitalist and blogger Jordan Cooper during a conversation at TechCrunch Disrupt. Mr. Cooper, of course, blogged about it.
App for That
Jordan Cooper of Lerer Ventures and Hyperpublic wants a social network where he can talk about his love life, and he’s looking for someone to build it. “I want to build an app that let’s you share your dating life with your friends. I would estimate that conversation about dating and pursuits of the opposite (or same) sex represent a higher volume of conversation than just about any other topic,” he blogged today.
Brand new start-up Hyperpublic is taking a novel strategy to wooing tech talent by gamifying the process with a two-part programming challenge.
“We just felt like there is so much noise out there,” founder Jordan Cooper told The Observer. “Tons of companies with no real engineering culture begging for engineers to come work with them.”
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