LA Venture: 137 Ventures’ Justin Fishner-Wolfson on Investing via Secondary Shares

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.

On this week's episode of the L.A. Venture Podcast, hear from Justin Fishner-Wolfson, founder and managing partner at 137 Ventures — a provider of customized liquidity solutions for founders, investors and early private tech companies.


Fishner-Wolfson is so focused investing in young tech companies because he learned a valuable lesson early on as an investor at Founders Fund, the venture firm that invested in SpaceX in 2008. He was also an early investor in Spotify, alongside Sean Parker.

Today, 137 Ventures manages more than $1.5 billion in assets.

Fishner-Wolfson was a pioneer of this model of buying secondary shares to get founders liquidity and he's been very successful at it (with a portfolio that includes SpaceX, Wish, Flexport, Gusto and many others). He says that he aims to invest $10 to $20 million in funds into 10 to 15 companies a year.

Today, he says his original thesis that companies would stay private longer and that that would create more need for earlier liquidity options has very much played out.

"We have some view that over an extended period of time that the business is going to play out and people are going to recognize that there is really great long-term value there," he says.

Fishner-Wolfson also explains the differences of being a broker, as opposed to being a buyer, and how his model has a number of structural advantages, including tax advantages.

"We definitely structure transactions ... as convertible debt, which tends to be much more tax efficient for founders," he says. "It allows them to maintain voting, control the shares — things that tend to matter. You can avoid repricing the foreign aid, I think, if you do things the right way. So the structure matters."

dot.LA Audience Engagement Editor Luis Gomez contributed to this post.

Want to hear more of L.A. Venture? Listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Folio, a New NFT Marketplace, Wants to Streamline the World of Digital Art

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern 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.

Image courtesy of Folio

For Joey Primiani, designing a new NFT marketplace is just the latest stop in what’s been a long and fascinating trip through the world of tech.

After stints at Google and Cortex and a gig developing Lady Gaga’s online fan community, Primiani, together with business partner Mirko Kiefer, unveiled his latest venture this week: Folio, a social network that offers artists a platform and tools to showcase their NFT creations.

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Introducing 'Moves': Our New Weekly Recap of Job Changes in LA Tech

Molly Wright
Molly Wright is an intern for dot.LA. She previously edited the London School of Economics’ student newspaper in the United Kingdom, interned for The Hollywood Reporter and was the blogging editor for UCLA’s Daily Bruin.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

This is the first installment of Moves—a weekly feature highlighting job and career changes around the Los Angeles and Southern California tech ecosystem.

Moves is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here. And if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing sharmineh@dot.LA.

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Shipment Tracking Startup Route Claims Unicorn Status After $200 Million Funding Round

Harri Weber

Do you know something we should know about L.A. tech or venture capital? Reach out securely via Signal: +1 917 434 4978.

Harri is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. She previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find her on Twitter and send tips on L.A. startups and venture capital to harrison@dot.la.

Ecommerce shipment tracking startup Route—which is based in the “Silicon Slopes” hotbed surrounding Salt Lake City but has a growing presence in Los Angeles—is now claiming unicorn status after raising $200 million in new funding at a $1.25 billion valuation.

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