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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After Dozens of Wrongful Arrests, a New Bill Is Cracking Down on Facial Recognition Tech for Law Enforcement
In 2020, Robert Julian-Borchak Williams was wrongfully arrested due to an algorithm used by the Michigan State Police who matched his driver’s license with a blurry surveillance photo. A few weeks later, Michael Oliver was arrested and charged with a felony by the Detroit police department after he was wrongfully identified by facial recognition technology (FRT).
In response, Congressman Ted W. Lieu of Los Angeles County and other House Democrats introduced the Facial Recognition Act of 2022 last week, which would place limitations and prohibitions on law enforcement use of FRT.
This comes at a time when records obtained by the Los Angeles Times show that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has used FRT at least 29,817 times since 2009. According to a study done by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the algorithms used in FRT falsely identified African-American and Asian faces 10 to 100 times more than white faces.
“The United States desperately lacks a national privacy law or any sort of meaningful restrictions on how our faces and biometrics that we leave behind through our daily interactions can be used by private companies or by law enforcement,” Courtney Radsch, UCLA fellow at the Institute for Technology Law and Policy, says.
The new bill, however, would urge law enforcement to obtain a judge-authorized warrant before using facial recognition on any investigation. In order to obtain a warrant, a police officer must submit a written affidavit to the judge. The idea being that adding an extra step will dissuade LAPD and other officials from relying so heavily on FRT and prevent the arrest of misidentified, innocent individuals.
Reliance on FRT reached a high point in the immediate aftermath of the January 6th Capital riots. The New York Times reported that Clearview AI, a leading facial recognition firm, saw a 26% jump in usage from law enforcement agencies on January 7th. In August 2021, the Government Accountability Office reported 20 out of 42 federal agencies surveyed used FRT as part of their law enforcement efforts.
“Given that you're going to see ongoing protests (due to Roe v. Wade and other ongoing issues),” says Radsch, “I think the ability to pick out protesters in a crowd combined with data from social media profiling and other sort of biometric and public monitoring is really disturbing.”
If the bill passes, law enforcement agencies are also prohibited from using FRT at protests and bans them from using the technology alongside body, dashboard and aircraft camera footage.
On the federal level, there are no laws in place that can prevent the abuse of FRT. U.S. Deputy Director of Security and Surveillance Jake Laperruque of the Center for Democracy and Technology calls it a “wild west.”
“A lot of folks see on TV and imagine it's kind of like a sci-fi attack, but it's very much a part of modern policing and government surveillance, and unfortunately, one that right now, has very little safeguards around,” he adds.
So far, there are no states that require a warrant to use facial recognition. But there are over a dozen states and cities that have rules and guidelines in place that limit law enforcement from using the technology at their disposal.
San Francisco and Oakland have banned government agencies from using facial recognition due to bias concerns. In 2020, Oregon was the first state to prohibit the use of facial recognition. And Massachusetts requires a court order for scans, but rather than probable cause, the government only needs to show that identifying the individual is relevant to an investigation.
To that end, Laperruque, who has been involved on the legislative side for over a decade, says it isn’t enough. Rep. Ted Lieu agrees, telling the LA Times that while more than a dozen states have enacted regulations around the use of FRT, the piecemeal approach doesn't keep all citizens safe from misidentification. Adding that, “This bill creates baseline protections for all Americans while still enabling state and local jurisdictions to move forward with bans and moratoriums.
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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.
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.