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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Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable
Evan Xie

The original dream of streaming was all of the content you love, easily accessible on your TV or computer at any time, at a reasonable price. Sadly, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have come together over the last decade or so to recognize that this isn’t really economically viable. Instead, the streaming marketplace is slowly transforming into something approximating Cable Television But Online.

It’s very expensive to make the kinds of shows that generate the kind of enthusiasm and excitement from global audiences that drives the growth of streaming platforms. For every international hit like “Squid Game” or “Money Heist,” Netflix produced dozens of other shows whose titles you have definitely forgotten about.

The marketplace for new TV has become so massively competitive, and the streaming landscape so oversaturated, even relatively popular shows with passionate fanbases that generate real enthusiasm and acclaim from critics often struggle to survive. Disney+ canceled Luscasfilm’s “Willow” after just one season this week, despite being based on a hit Ron Howard film and receiving an 83% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon dropped the mystery drama “Three Pines” after one season as well this week, which starred Alfred Molina, also received positive reviews, and is based on a popular series of detective novels.

Even the new season of “The Mandalorian” is off to a sluggish start compared to its previous two Disney+ seasons, and Pedro Pascal is basically the most popular person in America right now.

Now that major players like Netflix, Disney+, and WB Discovery’s HBO Max have entered most of the big international markets, and bombarded consumers there with marketing and promotional efforts, onboarding of new subscribers inevitably has slowed. Combine that with inflation and other economic concerns, and you have a recipe for austerity and belt-tightening among the big streamers that’s virtually guaranteed to turn the smorgasbord of Peak TV into a more conservative a la carte offering. Lots of stuff you like, sure, but in smaller portions.

While Netflix once made its famed billion-dollar mega-deals with top-name creators, now it balks when writer/director Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday”) asks for $150 million to pay her cast of A-list actors. Her latest romantic comedy will likely move over to Warner Bros., which can open the film in theaters and hopefully recoup Scarlett Johansson and Michael Fassbender’s salaries rather than just spending the money and hoping it lingers longer in the public consciousness than “The Gray Man.”

CNET did the math last month and determined that it’s still cheaper to choose a few subscription streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime over a conventional cable TV package by an average of about $30 per month (provided you don’t include the cost of internet service itself). But that means picking and choosing your favorite platforms, as once you start adding all the major offerings out there, the prices add up quickly. (And those are just the biggest services from major Hollywood studios and media companies, let alone smaller, more specialized offerings.) Any kind of cable replacement or live TV streaming platform makes the cost essentially comparable to an old-school cable TV package, around $100 a month or more.

So called FAST, or Free Ad-supported Streaming TV services, have become a popular alternative to paid streaming platforms, with Fox’s Tubi making its first-ever appearance on Nielsen’s monthly platform rankings just last month. (It’s now more popular than the first FAST service to appear on the chart, Paramount Global’s Pluto TV.) According to Nielsen, Tubi now accounts for around 1% of all TV viewing in the US, and its model of 24/7 themed channels supported by semi-frequent ad breaks couldn’t resemble cable television anymore if it tried.

Services like Tubi and Pluto stand to benefit significantly from the new streaming paradigm, and not just from fatigued consumers tired of paying for more content. Cast-off shows and films from bigger streamers like HBO Max often find their way to ad-supported platforms, where they can start bringing in revenue for their original studios and producers. The infamous HBO Max shows like “The Nevers” and “Westworld” that WBD controversially pulled from the HBO Max service can now be found on Tubi or The Roku Channel.

HBO Max’s recently-canceled reality dating series “FBoy Island” has also found a new home, but it’s not on any streaming platform. Season 3 will air on TV’s The CW, along with a new spinoff series called (wait for it) “FGirl Island.” So in at least some ways, “30 Rock” was right: technology really IS cyclical.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base
Evan Xie

This is the web version of dot.LA’s daily newsletter. Sign up to get the latest news on Southern California’s tech, startup and venture capital scene.

Another day, another update in the unending saga that is the potential TikTok ban.

The latest: separate from the various bills proposing a ban, the Biden administration has been in talks with TikTok since September to try and find a solution. Now, having thrown its support behind Senator MarkWarner’s bill, the White House is demanding TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sell its stakes in the company to avoid a ban. This would be a major blow to the business, as TikTok alone is worth between $40 billion and $50 billion—a significant portion of ByteDance’s $220 billion value.

Clearly, TikTok faces an uphill battle as its CEO Shou Zi Chew prepares to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week. But other social media companies are likely looking forward to seeing their primary competitor go—and are positioning themselves as the best replacement for migrating users.


Last year, The Washington Post reported that Meta paid a consulting firm to plant negative stories about TikTok. Now, Meta is reaping the benefits of TikTok’s downfall, with its shares rising 3% after the White House told TikTok to leave ByteDance. But this initial boost means nothing if the company can’t entice creators and viewers to Instagram and Facebook. And it doesn’t look promising in that regard.

Having waffled between pushing its short-form videos, called Reels, and de-prioritizing them in the algorithm, Instagram announced last week that it would no longer offer monetary bonuses to creators making Reels. This might be because of TikTok’s imminent ban. After all, the program was initially meant to convince TikTok creators to use Instagram—an issue that won’t be as pressing if TikTok users have no choice but to find another platform.


Alternatively, Snap is doing the opposite and luring creators with an ad revenue-sharing program. First launched in 2022, creators are now actively boasting about big earnings from the program, which provides 50% of ad revenue from videos. Snapchat is clearly still trying to win over users with new tech like its OpenAI chatbot, which it launched last month. But it's best bet to woo the TikTok crowd is through its new Sounds features, which suggest audio for different lenses and will match montage videos to a song’s rhythm. Audio clips are crucial to TikTok’s platform, so focusing on integrating songs into content will likely appeal to users looking to recreate that experience.


With its short-form ad revenue-sharing program, YouTube Shorts has already lured over TikTok creators. It's even gotten major stars like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift to promote music on Shorts. This is likely where YouTube has the best bet of taking TikTok’s audience. Since TikTok has become deeply intertwined with the music industry, Shorts might be primed to take its spot. And with its new feature that creates compiles all the videos using a specific song, Shorts is likely hoping to capture musicians looking to promote their work.


The most blatant attempt at seducing TikTok users, however, comes from Triller, which launched a portal for people to move their videos from TikTok to its platform. It’s simple, but likely the most effective tactic—and one that other short-form video platforms should try to replicate. With TikTok users worried about losing their backlog of content, this not only lets users archive but also bolsters Triller’s content offerings. The problem, of course, is that Triller isn’t nearly as well known as the other platforms also trying to capture TikTok users. Still, those who are in the know will likely find this option easier than manually re-uploading content to other sites.

It's likely that many of these platforms will see a momentary boost if the TikTok ban goes through. But all of these companies need to ensure that users coming from TikTok actually stay on their platforms. Considering that they have already been upended by one newcomer when TikTok took over, there’s good reason to believe that a new app could come in and swoop up TikTok’s user base. As of right now, it's unclear who will come out on top. But the true loser is the user who has to adhere to the everyday whims of each of these platforms.

We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said
Evan Xie

According to Pew Research data, 27% of Americans interact with AI on a daily basis. With the launch of Open AI’s latest language model GPT-4, we asked our readers how they use AI in a professional capacity. Here’s what they told us:

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