How Jordan Fudge Raised One of the Largest Funds in LA History

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

Jordan Fudge Sinai Ventures

Jordan Fudge – Black, openly gay, and only 28-years old – recently closed one of the largest venture funds in Los Angeles history, which he runs out of a lavish Bel Air mansion. He has raised nearly a billion dollars in dry powder from a reclusive billionaire in Germany, who he got connected to through his personal trainer.

In a notoriously clubby and homogenous industry with few people of color, Sinai Capital Partners Managing Partner Fudge sees standing out from the pack as a major edge.

"We can be ourselves and leverage our youth in a way that makes founders feel excited to share their ideas with us and feel like they won't be rejected for having something that comes out of left field," Fudge said. "We understand certain concepts a little bit more quickly because typically the market they're trying to address is people like us."

Sinai Capital Partners has raised $600 million, $500 million of which will go towards the tech-focused Sinai Ventures and the rest to fund movies and television shows at New Slate Ventures. All told, Sinai will now have $800 million in assets under management, vaulting it into the upper echelon of L.A. venture funds.

The news touting the raise as the largest in Los Angeles history was announced in a terse press release last month but received scant attention, perhaps because Fudge does not travel in the usual VC circles or because he says he has deliberately avoided the spotlight.

"We preferred to stay under the radar until we had some real results and a track record," Fudge said.

In something unheard of in the tech world, Fudge does not have a LinkedIn profile.

"To me, LinkedIn encourages a rather shallow, artificial type of networking," he said.

But Fudge is hardly shy. He shares shirtless selfies in his home gym or pictures of yachts and sports cars to his nearly half a million followers on Instagram. Earlier this year, he co-hosted a tony fundraiser at his home for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg with Empire writer/director Lee Daniels. He also serves on the board of the LGBTQ advocacy group, GLAAD, and was a young associate director at the Metropolitan Opera until last year.

Instead of the sleek corporate offices in Santa Monica most venture firms operated in before the pandemic, Fudge runs Sinai from a $9 million mansion tucked in the hills of Bel Air, furnished in all-white with a grand staircase and backyard pool.

"We chose it over an office because we don't like working in traditional office spaces," he explained. "We've had founders stay there when they're in L.A. for meetings and in better times hosted events and fundraisers."

What also makes Sinai unusual is that all of its capital comes from a single limited partner. Asked who that person is, Fudge said the individual prefers not to be named. "We don't comment on our LPs out of respect for their privacy," he said.

Then, he volunteered that the LP is a German billionaire who made his fortune as a founder of enterprise software conglomerate SAP and has a family office called Eagle Advisors.

A quick Google search reveals the billionaire is almost certainly Hans-Werner Hector, ranked as the 945th richest man in world by Forbes with an estimated $2.4 billion fortune.

The head of Eagle Advisors, Ekkehart Hassels-Weiler, has been known mostly for his lavish real estate purchases on both U.S. coasts. He bought four penthouses totaling $120 million in New York starting in the mid-2010s and last year reportedly purchased a Benedict Canyon spec mansion with his new husband for $43 million.

In 2015, after an uninspiring post-college stint at 21st Century Fox, Fudge met Hassels-Weiler through their personal trainers who happen to be brothers.

"We'd often see each other at the gym in L.A. near where the family office is based," Fudge remembers. "When I left Fox, I intentionally started scheduling sessions at the same time as him to get some face time and pick his brain. I finally asked him if he had hired anyone to look after tech, media, telecom and he hadn't due to their focus on energy and real estate."

Fudge pitched Hassels-Weiler on the graphics processing chip manufacturer NVIDIA Corporation and the timing turned out to be perfect. The stock more than tripled in a year, a return that led to Hassels-Weiler bringing Fudge on as an associate.

"I developed sort of an in-house private house venture capital fund for them, which was then spun out into what is now Sinai," Fudge said. "We started with them seeding us with one hundred million and did really well with that."

The biggest breakout from the 85 startups Sinai has invested in so far is Pinterest. The fund came in relatively late in Pinterest's 2017 Series H at a post-money valuation of $12.3 billion. The company went public in 2019 at a lower valuation of $10 billion, but Pinterest now has a market cap of more than $40 billion.

Sinai also got in on the real estate service Compass' Series D and the Series A of Ro, the parent company of Roman Health.

Eagle Advisors more than doubled its investment on Fund I, according to sources.

"We were able to use that credibility to continue to raise more capital from them and go later in the life cycle of some of these companies that we're interested in," Fudge said. "Specifically within Los Angeles, there really aren't many funds that are able to write those kinds of checks."

Fudge initially launched Sinai in the Bay Area, but he quickly soured on the tech scene there.

"I found San Francisco to be a monoculture and generally a soulless, unpleasant place to live," he said. "The VC crowd there has a tendency of being rather pompous and the deals we were seeing in the city seemed increasingly overpriced."

In 2018, the firm relocated to Los Angeles. Fudge and Zach White — the partner who helps oversee Sinai Ventures — both grew up here and say they want to invest in L.A. startups, but also companies anywhere that encapsulate the L.A. ethos of tech, entertainment and diversity.

"We're L.A. at our very core," White said. "And the sort of fiber and DNA of our fund is L.A. But we are going to be global in the way that we allocate capital."

Far from a hindrance, White says the fact that he and Fudge are young and Black has helped them get into highly competitive funding rounds. He points to Brud, an L.A company that uses artificial intelligence to create virtual popstars. It secured early funding from Sequoia but Fudge is friends with the founder, Trevor McFedries, and so they were able to get in on the Series A.

"He has no shortage of suitors trying to get into that company," White said. "But I think that us being able to view it from the perspective of someone who's a little bit closer in age and skin color to him really benefited us."

McFedries says he finds Fudge to be "super smart" and a great listener.

"He has a point of view that allows him to recognize opportunities others wouldn't," said McFedries. "And being in L.A. it's been great to have an investor close by."

An Entertainment Fund for Underrepresented Founders

After he graduated from Northwestern University, Fudge got what seemed like a plum gig in 2014, working on digital strategy under co-chairs Dana Walden – now a top executive at Disney – and Gary Newman. As he remembers it, the mandate of his group was figuring out how to make money licensing Fox's vast library of content to Netflix and Hulu without cannibalizing the studio's lucrative television and movie business.

New Slate Ventures

"At the time, legacy studios like Fox were just beginning to recognize the legitimacy of subscription services as existential threats," Fudge said. "Part of the reason I left was I realized there wasn't much more runway for a company like that, a legacy media company owned by a family that sort of is trying to compete with these massive tech behemoths that have deeper pockets and a better understanding of the customer."

Six years later, every big media company is desperately trying to be the next Netflix and Fudge thinks he can use his entertainment and tech experience to both make a sizable return and elevate underrepresented filmmakers.

"There is a huge opportunity for artists that typically wouldn't fare very well within traditional studio structures to be able to make their films and create art that is authentic and resonates with this generation," Fudge said. "They can do that with us because we understand it as first-hand consumers of that content."

Fudge's New Slate Ventures wants to fund projects from underrepresented filmmakers. It has seen critical success backing "The Forty-Year-Old Version," a semi autobiographical comedy mostly shot in black and white from filmmaker Radha Blank that critics have hailed as "bringing a new voice to cinema." The film drew raves at Sundance and was picked up by Netflix.

New Slate is also developing a limited series on junk bond king turned philanthropist Michael Milken written by Terrence Winter of "The Sopranos" and "The Wolf of Wall Street" fame.

Aside from both being a sometimes glamorous yet risky investment, entertainment and tech would seem to have little in common. But Fudge maintains there have never been more similarities.

"The rules are being administered by the same companies and also being rewritten by similar types of people in terms of the founders who are coming to create new companies in a way that I think directors and producers are also looking to create new opportunities in media," Fudge said. "I have a very good understanding of how to make money in entertainment in this new sort of era that we're entering with the streaming wars being what they are."

The entertainment fund is being run by Jeremy Allen, who spent two years as an assistant to WME Chairman Patrick Whitesell.

"We understand how to read a script," Allen said. "We understand what makes a good movie. We understand how to produce something."

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🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  •, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading