‘It Was Too Good to Pass Up’: Why Anna Barber Is Moving from Techstars to M13

Anna Barber, who has served as a mentor to countless early startup founders and headed the Techstars LA Accelerator for the past three years, is leaving to become the first head of M13's venture studio and a partner at the firm.

"I was not looking for a new role, but you literally couldn't design a more perfect opportunity for me," Barber said. "It was too good to pass up."


Unlike traditional VC funds that invest in other founders, a venture studio starts companies of its own. The model has been increasingly popular and the Santa Monica-based firm rolled out its studio, Launchpad, last year. Its first company is Rae, a line of affordable women's wellness products available at Target, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.

Barber says the studio model is appealing, especially at M13, because the firm can use its extensive network of connections with corporate partners to help young startups get a toehold with consumers.

"I think we're in a time where it's easy to start a company but hard to build a great company," she said. "It's easier to get to market, but harder to compete."

Barber said she was attracted to M13 because it truly wants to support founders, and most of its partners were operators before they were investors. Co-founders Courney and Carter Reum started the firm after they sold their spirits business. Gautum Gupta, a San Francisco-based partner, started NatureBox, a digitally native brand of snacks.

"They have a high degree of empathy for founders," Barber said.

Barber will be one of three female partners and she said the firm's efforts to have a diverse workforce and invest in underrepresented founders was also important. She also cited M13's culture as a reason for making the switch.

"Everyone is really nice," Barber said. "It's filled with kind people. That's something I look for."

Barber started her career as a corporate lawyer and was a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company. She moved to tech in 1999, just as the dot-com bubble was bursting, as an executive at two ecommerce startups, Petstore.com and Rentanything.com.

Barber will retain her role as a partner at the Fund LA, the early stage fund of local founders and operators, which she helped start earlier this year. (M13 is a limited partner.) She also hopes to continue to be a mentor for Techstars, noting that members of the accelerator often say they are part of "Techstars for life."

During these COVID times, starting a new job comes without the rituals of figuring out a different commute or decorating a new workspace. When Barber starts her new role December 1st, she will be working from the same place she has since the pandemic began – her house in the Valley.

"I'll be logging into Zoom with a different email address, essentially," Barber said. "It doesn't feel like the massive shift that it actually is."

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  • Fidelity Seeking to Unload Bird Shares at a Loss
  • Warner Bros.' 2021 Films Will Be Released in Theaters, HBO Max Simultaneously
  • Plug-In South LA Opens New Accelerator Cohort for 2021

    Fidelity Reportedly Seeks To Unload Bird Shares at a Loss 

    Escooter Unicorn Bird Seeks to Unload Santa Monica HQ upload.wikimedia.org

    Fidelity Investments is attempting to unload some of its shares in Bird Rides Inc. at a loss, according to a report published Wednesday night by Business Insider.

    The move comes after dot.LA reported in October that the mutual fund giant has marked down the value of its Bird investment by 17% since the beginning of the year.


    As a private company, Bird does not have to share its financials. Nor do the venture funds that hold most of its shares. However, Fidelity is required to account for shares at their fair market value so it provides a rare glimpse into the company's health.

    But a source close to the matter said the sale should not be seen as any indication of Bird's financial performance. The shares represent less than ten percent of Fidelity's position and the intended sale is the result of a new portfolio manager taking over who does not want to invest in pre-IPO companies, the source said.

    Neither Bird nor Fidelity would respond to dot.LA's request for comment.

    Bird became the fastest company in history to reach unicorn status in 2018 and achieved a $2 billion valuation less than a year later. But as the pandemic hit, it abruptly laid off 406 employees via a Zoom call and was forced to remove its fleet from city streets just as it was gearing up for its normally lucrative summer season.

    dot.LA reported in October the company put its Santa Monica offices up for sublease less than a year after completing a costly renovation.

    Bird has maintained the pandemic has been a positive as riders prefer scooters over crowded buses and subways. It says it is seeing riders take longer trips than they did before the pandemic.

    Last month, Bloomberg reported Bird is looking to go public via a blank-check company. Bird said it had no plans to go public "this year," which did not exactly rule out a SPAC sometime in the near future.

    ​Plug-In South LA Opens New Accelerator Cohort for 2021

    Plug In South LA's Accelerator Program is returning in 2021. The outfit is looking for 10 Black and Latinx founders who have proof of product-market fit and traction. The organization, founded in 2015 by Derek Smith, aims to build a network for Black and Latinx founders in South Los Angeles.

    Last year was the inaugural accelerator program funded by Verizon, Silicon Valley Bank and Nike. The 2019 cohort hosted five startups including Spooler, a tech-based clothing design startup that credits the program with helping to increase revenue two fold since March. During the program, the company received a contract to launch a Sesame Street active wear product line.

    The last day to apply for the program is Dec. 9

    Warner Bros.’ 2021 Films Will Be Released in Theaters, HBO Max Simultaneously

    Warner Bros. will be streaming all its 2021 theatrical releases on HBO Max in a blow to already struggling theater chains as the pandemic continues to reshape Hollywood.

    The AT&T-owned studio's 17-film slate, including "Godzilla vs. Kong," "Mortal Kombat," "The Suicide Squad" and "Matrix 4," will be available on the streaming platform exclusively for one month, starting when they are released in theaters and then will disappear from the platform.The move comes shortly after the company announced it would bring its expected blockbuster "Wonder Woman 1984" directly to HBO Max.


    "We're living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group," said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, in a statement released on Thursday. "No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021."

    Sarnoff said the model is a temporary one, but the decision will reverberate across an industry that has taken away screening exclusivity from theaters and reshaped how studios function.

    "With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren't quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films," Sarnoff said. "We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors."

    AT&T's decision to favor its streaming service over theaters comes in response to the pandemic, but it also aligns with CEO John Stankey's public comments that he wants to center his company's strategy around streaming. It's part of a broader blueprint meant to goose AT&T's broadband business, which led the company to acquire Time Warner in 2018 for $85 billion. Comcast, AT&T's chief broadband rival, is pursuing a similar game plan with its own streaming service, Peacock, which falls under its subsidiary NBCUniversal.

    AT&T last month announced layoffs at WarnerMedia to focus the company around HBO Max. Elsewhere, Disney — which logged nearly 74 million paid subscribers to its Disney Plus streaming service last quarter — has refocused on that format. It's another example of a shift toward streaming that was already underway but which has been accelerated by the pandemic.

    CrowdStrike shares surged more than 13% Thursday after the Sunnyvale-based cybersecurity company once again reported blockbuster earnings. The stock is now up 184% this year, eclipsing the 38% gain for the rest of the Nasdaq.

    CrowdStrike's blistering performance is a big win for March Capital, the Santa Monica venture firm focusing on enterprise software founded by Jim Armstrong, Jamie Montgomery, Gregory Milken and Sumant Mandal in 2014.

    Read more Show less

    Warner Bros. will be streaming all its 2021 theatrical releases on HBO Max in a blow to already struggling theater chains as the pandemic continues to reshape Hollywood.

    The AT&T-owned studio's 17-film slate, including "Godzilla vs. Kong," "Mortal Kombat," "The Suicide Squad" and "Matrix 4," will be available on the streaming platform exclusively for one month, starting when they are released in theaters and then will disappear from the platform.The move comes shortly after the company announced it would bring its expected blockbuster "Wonder Woman 1984" directly to HBO Max.

    Read more Show less
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