LA Venture Podcast: TenOneTen Venture's Gil Elbaz on Why Founders Need a 10-Year Vision
On this episode of L.A. Venture, we talk to Gil Elbaz, one of my partners and the co-founder of TenOneTen Ventures.
Gil is one of the most iconic founders in L.A. He talks about his years building what would eventually become Google's AdSense while he was at Applied Semantics, his experience founding Factual, and explains why founders should mentally commit 10 years to their startup before beginning.
"I enjoy working with people who are addicted enough to solving a particular problem that they can't really imagine stopping — regardless of the kind of roadblock that they hit," he says. "I think that the entrepreneur has to go in assuming that it's going to take years before the market appreciates this incredible vision, that actually it's going to be a full 10 years until you get through the entire cycle of finding product-market fit."
- Gil's sale of Applied Semantics to Google was one of the earliest and most significant venture-backed startup sales in Southern California
- Applied Semantics's product, AdSense, is now iconic and tens of billions of dollars in revenue
- Gil then went on to lead Google's L.A. office for a number of years before leaving Google to start his second L.A.-based startup, Factual.
- Factual had a big employee base and presence in Century City before merging with Foursquare
- Gil was a trustee at Caltech and has been on the board at XPrize for 15 years
"Follow your values, give it a decent effort. Don't kill yourself. Just give it a decent effort. Don't act like, 'this conversation isn't important'. Take it seriously. Just do the right thing — A hundred thousand times in a row." — Gil Elbaz
Gil Elbaz is the co-founder of TenOneTen Ventures, a Los Angeles-based, early-stage venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs who apply data and technology to disrupt existing industries, or create new categories entirely.
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The subscription management platform behind Harry's, Native and Fiji Water just pulled in $277 million in Series B round backed Summit Partners, ICONIQ Growth and Bain Capital Ventures.
Santa Monica-based ReCharge, founded in 2014, bootstrapped its growth until last year, when the subscription ecommerce service raised $50 million from Summit. This latest round values the company at $2.1 billion.
The SaaS platform now powers subscriptions for 15,000 merchants and 20 million subscribers worldwide, including Oatly, Billie and other direct-to-consumer brands.
COVID has been a boon for the ecommerce business as the stay-at-home economy pushed consumers online. The profitable company has more than doubled annual recurring revenues from 2019 to 2020.
CFO Stephanie Lemmerman credits ReCharge's growth to a business model that prioritizes merchant and customer trust as well as product quality.
"Other subscription services offer limited turnkey solutions, whereas our API first approach to our product development allows a high level of customization and flexibility," said Lemmerman. "We offer a cloud-based approach for all business sizes."
ReCharge's software provides merchants a way to offer and manage subscriptions for physical products and make it easier for them to repeat purchases.
The company has processed $5.3 billion, doubling its processing volume each year for the last five years.
Lemmerman said the company plans to use the funds to invest in improving the product, build up marketing and work on customer service. She also said plans are in the works to expand beyond North America; but declined to reveal further details on specific products or services.
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Liquid Death, the bad-boy themed brand selling Austrian mountain water in tallboy cans, has had quite the life.
The unlikely Santa Monica company filed paperwork indicating it is raising nearly $15 million in additional equity funding. It says it has already raised about $10 million of that, according to paperwork filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Michael Cessario, the ad-man turned co-founder and CEO of Liquid Death, did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Liquid Death most recently raised $23 million of Series B venture funding from Convivialité Ventures, Velvet Sea Ventures and Uncommon Denominator in September at a pre-money valuation at $82 million, according to Pitchbook data. It also raised $10.1 million of Series A venture funding in February 2020 in a deal led by Velvet Sea Ventures at a pre-money valuation at $39.9 million.
Science Inc, a Santa Monica-based startup studio and early-stage venture fund, led the company's 2019 seed round at a $5 million valuation.
Featuring the slogan "Murder Your Thirst," Liquid Death sells its mountain water directly to consumers for $14.99 a case, not including shipping. It is also available in select 7-11 and Whole Foods locations.
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Black professionals hold 12% of entry-level corporate jobs, but just 7% of management roles, according to McKinsey & Co. A major reason why is they often do not get enough mentoring and support and end up leaving the workforce before they advance.
Valence, a venture-backed platform to help Black professionals network and climb the corporate ladder, announced Thursday its latest effort to close the gap. Called BONDS, it is a membership-based community to provide mentoring from some of the top names in tech including Upfront Ventures Managing Partner Mark Suster, Y Combinator CEO Michael Siebel and Bonita Stewart, VP Global Partnerships at Google.
The program is accepting applications for the first cohort through the end of the month.
"It's no secret that Black professionals face unique challenges," Guy Primus, CEO of Valence, said in a statement. "Companies are slowly understanding that merely hiring Black talent is not enough; they must help cultivate their success. The professional development, mentorship, and community provided by BONDS creates an enduring ecosystem, with professional and organizational success as the output."
The yearly BONDS membership is open to rising senior managers, directors and other leaders with more than eight years of experience at large or enterprise companies. Senior executives at startups and small and mid-size companies as well as founders and investors are also invited to apply.
Inaugural partners include Santa Monica's Upfront Ventures as well as Accel, Electrolux, GGV Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Providence Strategic Growth, Roblox, and Silicon Valley Bank.
Valence raised a $5.25 million Series A round last year led by GGV Capital and set a goal of attracting 100,000 members in a year.
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