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.

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Harrison Weber

Harrison is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. They previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find them on Twitter: @harrisonweber. Send non-sensitive tips on L.A. deals to harrison@dot.la. Pronouns: they/them.

Do you know something we should know about L.A. tech or venture capital? Reach out securely by downloading Signal on a non-work device: +1 917 434 4978.

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David Shultz
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Sarah Favot

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