These Are LA's Top Venture Capitalists of 2022, According to Their Fellow VCs
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On the heels of a record-setting year for Southern California’s startup environment, we asked more than 30 leading Los Angeles-based investors for their take on the city’s top venture capitalists. (Specifically, we prompted: “Which L.A.-based VCs impress you the most?”) They responded with the names of 45 peers that they admire—14 of whom made the following list by receiving two or more votes.
The results offer an insider’s view of the L.A.’s startup scene in 2022—which, even as it rapidly expands, remains an insular world led by a handful of key dealmakers, like the venture capital industry at large. This year, TenOneTen partner Minnie Ingersoll and Bonfire Ventures managing director Mark Mullen tied for the top spot, with five votes apiece; they were followed by Wonder Ventures managing partner Dustin Rosen, who received four votes. Behind them, five VCs tied for third place with three votes each, while another six investors round up the list with two votes apiece.
Like last year’s list (which also featured Bonfire’s Mullen in the top spot), the below results are sorted by the number of votes each VC received; where there were ties, we list the investors alphabetically by their last names. As always, we asked survey participants not to vote for any of their colleagues—and vetted the list to ensure they stuck to that rule.
Without further ado ado, here are LA’s top VCs of 2022, as judged by their peers.
Minnie Ingersoll, TenOneTen Ventures
Minnie Ingersoll, TenOneTen Ventures (5 Votes)
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at early-stage venture firm TenOneTen, whose recent investments include crypto travel rewards startup FlyCoin. Prior to TenOneTen, she co-founded Shift Technologies, an online marketplace for buying and selling used cars. Ingersoll also spent more than a decade at Google, where she focused on the tech giant’s fiber optic, advertising and charitable efforts. (She also hosts dot.LA’s LA Venture podcast.)
Mark Mullen, Bonfire Ventures
Mark Mullen, Bonfire Ventures (5 Votes)
Mark Mullen is co-founder and managing director of Bonfire Ventures, an early-stage venture firm that backs business-to-business (B2B) software startups. (Recent investments include cloud communications startup Telgorithm.) Mullen previously managed venture funds Double M Partners and Mull Capital. In January, an SEC filing revealed that Bonfire aimed to raise $165 million for its third fund. (Disclosure: Mullen is an investor in dot.LA.)
Dustin Rosen, Wonder Ventures
Dustin Rosen, Wonder Ventures (4 Votes)
Dustin Rosen is the founder and managing partner of Wonder Ventures, an early stage investor in companies including L.A.-based unicorns Whatnot and Bird. Earlier in his career, Rosen founded the fashion app Pose and was a senior associate at the Mail Room Fund. Last month, Wonder launched a $31 million fund focused exclusively on early-stage L.A. startups.
Jim Andelman, Bonfire Ventures
Jim Andelman, Bonfire Ventures (3 Votes)
Alongside Mark Mullen, Jim Andelman is a co-founder and managing director at Bonfire Ventures, an early-stage venture firm focused on B2B software startups. Previously, he oversaw software deals for Bay Area investment firm Broadview Capital Partners.
Anna Barber, M13
Anna Barber, M13 (3 Votes)
Anna Barber is a partner at M13, a venture firm focused on early-stage consumer tech companies. (Recent investments include NFT startup Unblocked.) Barber is also an advisor to the USC Marshall Venture Fund. She previously led Techstars LA as its managing director and co-founded Scribble Press, a New York-based book publishing startup. (Disclosure: M13 is an investor in dot.LA.)
Eva Ho, Fika Ventures
Eva Ho, Fika Ventures (3 Votes)
Eva Ho is a general partner at Fika Ventures, a seed-stage firm that focuses on sectors including AI, automation and big data. Ho formerly worked at Google and served as entrepreneur-in-residence for the city of Los Angeles.
Jeff Morris, Chapter One
Jeff Morris, Chapter One (3 Votes)
Jeff Morris is the founder and managing partner of Chapter One, a venture firm targeting early-stage web3 startups. The former Tinder executive’s previous investments include Dapper Labs, Lyft, Cameo and PearPop.
Dana Settle, Greycroft
Dana Settle, Greycroft (3 Votes)
Dana Settle is a co-founder and managing partner at Greycroft, which has backed consumer-focused startups including Acorns, Goop and Bumble. The Lehman Brothers alum helped Greycroft close two funds worth nearly $700 million combined in late 2020. (Disclosure: Greycroft is an investor in dot.LA.)
Josh Diamond, Walkabout Ventures
Josh Diamond, Walkabout Ventures (2 Votes)
Josh Diamond is a general partner at Walkabout Ventures, a seed-stage venture firm that primarily targets fintech startups. Diamond previously served as a principal investor at Clocktower Technology Ventures.
Buck Jordan, Wavemaker Labs
Buck Jordan, Wavemaker Labs (2 Votes)
Buck Jordan is the founder and CEO of Wavemaker Labs, which funds and incubates startups in partnership with larger corporations. Wavemaker has especially targeted the food industry supply chain space—backing automated technologies at both the agricultural and food preparation stages that deploy AI and robotics.
Kara Nortman, Upfront Ventures
Kara Nortman, Upfront Ventures (2 Votes)
Kara Nortman is a managing partner at Upfront Ventures. An alum of IAC, Battery Ventures and Microsoft, Nortman previously co-founded children’s ecommerce startup Moonfrye and also helped launch women’s professional soccer club Angel City FC. Upfront raised $177 million for a new fund in January; local portfolio companies include GOAT, Creator Now and Endgame. (Disclosure: Upfront Ventures is an investor in dot.LA.)
Spencer Rascoff, 75 & Sunny
Spencer Rascoff, 75 & Sunny (2 Votes)
Spencer Rascoff is a co-founder and general partner at 75 & Sunny, a venture firm and startup incubator. Focused on sectors including proptech and ecommerce, Rascoff previously co-founded Zillow, Hotwire.com and real estate platform Pacaso (Disclosure: Rascoff is the co-founder and executive chairman of dot.LA.)
Adriana Saman, Clocktower Technology Ventures
Adriana Saman, Clocktower Technology Ventures (2 Votes)
Adriana Saman is a principal at Clocktower Technology Ventures, a venture firm investing in early-stage fintech startups across the U.S., Europe and Latin America. Saman was previously an analyst at JPMorgan Chase.
Sara Zayani, Global Founders Capital
Sara Zayani, Global Founders Capital (2 Votes)
Sarra Zayani is a partner at Global Founders Capital. The Greycroft alum has led Global Founders’ investments in local startups including Cann, Universal Hydrogen and Pacaso.
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Delta Airlines invested $60 million in Santa Cruz-based electric aircraft startup Joby Aviation Tuesday as the major airline begins to seriously consider using electric air taxis as a way to shuttle people to and from their airport destinations.
The deal sees Delta investing $60 million in exchange for a 2% stake and a seat on Joby’s board, but it could be worth much more.
Delta is dangling a golden carrot in front of the electric aircraft firm, and promised its investment could swell to a total $200 million if Joby hits certain “substantive milestones on the development and delivery of the service” – though it didn’t specify what those milestones would be, and Joby and Delta didn’t immediately return dot.LA’s requests for comment.
Delta plans to integrate Joby’s air taxi services into its network of services to give passengers access to short-range flights to and from city airports starting with Los Angeles and New York. Joby previously stated it plans to open air taxi travel to the public as soon as 2024, though it’s unclear if that’s exactly the same timeline Delta is targeting for its flights.
In May, Joby received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin its testing of commercial air taxi services, but currently holds only one of the three certifications it’d need to be sanctioned for widespread use (it still needs to certify its production and aircraft).
According to Joby, the Delta deal is mutually exclusive in the U.S. and U.K. for the first five years following Joby’s commercial launch. This means neither party can seek alternate deals with competitors, a sign that Delta is certainly serious about exploring the air taxi space as part of its long-term business plans. Delta CEO Ed Bastian told reporters the deal is a good one for Delta, since it will rely on Joby to be the operator and figure out the tech, while all Delta has to do is cut checks, ready the airport infrastructure and, theoretically, wait for the cash to flow in.
Joby Aviation CEO JoeBen Bevirt told The Verge Tuesday that he predicted his service could drastically reduce friction in getting to the airport, claiming that a normally 50-minute trip from Manhattan to JFK International Airport outside Queens could be shaved down to just 10 minutes with one of Joby’s air taxis. This is partly because Joby’s aircrafts are designed for electric, vertical takeoff and landing (nicknamed eVTOL), which means they don’t need a full runway.
“Delta has invested billions of dollars in airport infrastructure and has really deep and important relationships with the airports in both New York and L.A.,” Bevirt told TechCrunch.
Still, Delta isn’t the first household name to back Joby since its launch in 2009 – the company also received investments from Toyota and has a deal with Uber. Uber first invested $50 million in Joby’s Series C round in January 2020 and contributed another $75 million in December 2020. Joby also bought Uber Elevate, Uber’s floundering attempt at an air taxi service launched in 2016, which didn’t work out. Joby said it had plans to revamp it, with the goal to “integrate their respective services into each other’s apps, enabling seamless integration between ground and air travel for future customers.”
In September, as part of a similar arrangement, United Airlines announced that it invested $15 million in Brazilian startup Eve Air Mobility, and also placed an order for 200 of Eve’s electric air taxis.
As such, Joby faces stiff competition in the burgeoning air taxi industry. One such, well-funded startup in California is San Francisco-based Archer Aviation. The Joby competitor is also backed by United Airlines, which paid $1 billion to order 200 of its aircraft last year.
Like Joby, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange through a blank-check merger last August at a $4.5 billion valuation, Archer Aviation was on a similar track and went public last July. But Joby’s SPAC deal was criticized by some, including analysts at Bleecker Street Capital, a hedge fund, which argued in a lengthy report that Joby was over-inflating its ability to produce enough aircraft to hit its 2024 targets.
“Unfortunately, as much as we hate traffic, we believe Joby has severely overstated what it can do,” the report noted. “We believe Joby is publicly overstating how many planes it can produce… We believe the project will be massively delayed and miss timelines by years.”
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Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.
Yesterday afternoon millions Californians around the state received an emergency alert straight to their mobile phones asking them to conserve power as the electric grid teetered on edge of collapse. The move came as the state battles on through an historic heatwave that has laid bare the shortcoming of its infrastructure in the face of a new and hotter climate.
At around 5 p.m. yesterday, the Golden State grid saw a record-setting peak demand of 52,061 megawatts. At 5:17, grid operators triggered a level 3 energy emergency alert, which signals to utility providers to prepare for rotating blackouts.
“We were well into the reserve tank of the car,” said CAISO president Elliot Mainzer in a press conference this morning. “We were down to the last gallon there and dipping into our operating reserves.”
At 5:45 p.m., Governor Newsom authorized the use of the wireless emergency alert system, which sent the text urging Californians to conserve power. The impact was almost immediate.
“Within moments, we saw a significant amount of load reduction showing up to the tune of approximately 2000 megawatts,” said Mainzer. “That significant response from California consumers to the wireless emergency alert allowed us to restore our operating reserves and took us back from the edge of broader disturbance. As a result, we stayed in the first phase of the EAA three, and did not have to trigger rotating outages last night.”
Despite the CAISO’s adamance that it never called for rotating outages, the Northern California Power Agency did in fact cut the power for residents. Mainzer insists that the blackouts were likely the result of confusion between the two agencies.
“I don't know, honestly, this morning, exactly what happened there,” says Mainzer. “But we will be in touch and certainly really doubling down our communication with the utility to make sure that there is not a problem like that going forward.”
CAISO said that, even though the state was scrounging for every single megawatt it could find, the 45 megawatts saved from the communication snafu would not have made the difference to keep the lights on statewide.
Mainzer says the flex power gleaned from residents scaling back on power consumption–which totaled over 2,000 megawatts–was the key in bringing the grid back from the brink. But the agency is also aware that over-using the messaging system will likely decrease its effectiveness, as Californians become desensitized to repeated warnings.
“I think we need to be very careful not to just think that we can depend on that sort of a tool,” he said.
With temperature set to remain extremely high for at least several more days, CAISO is hoping that it won’t need the text warning again tonight, although there will still be a flex alert for this evening and citizens are still being asked to set thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, turn off unnecessary lights, and refrain from using appliances between the hours of 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
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David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.