LA Venture Podcast: Petra Griffith of Wedbush Ventures

One of my new favorite L.A. investors is Petra Griffith, who joins to discuss Wedbush Ventures on this week's episode of L.A. Venture. Griffith founded Wedbush Ventures in May of 2020. It's an early-stage venture fund that invests in seed and pre-seed stage companies.


Key takeaways:

  • Griffith's work at Grandpoint Bank made her realize that traditional banks have a really hard time with venture debt because venture debt doesn't look at cash flow or regular metrics. Instead, venture debt looks at who's backing the company and is interested in the ability of the company to raise money in the future.
  • While working on Netflix's first product team, Griffith learned that consumers needed to both trust the platform brand and feel emotionally connected to the show — quickly — if they were to become fans.
  • Griffith says she initially felt foolish speaking up about what she thought, but learning how to do so turned out to be a game changer because admitting what she wanted out loud, allowed people to open doors for her.
" ...going from from Yahoo to the bank and then from the bank to Netflix [...] I remember the first week being, like drinking from the fire hose." — Petra Griffith
"I always try to think about, 'how do you create a culture that's transparent, that's about problem solving, that is not afraid to raise issues and not afraid to probe'."Petra Griffith
"I think the willingness to pay for content will hit a wall soon. And so I think about other ways in which people are really finding value...And I think it's around community. I think it's around being proud of being in a community and being proud of what the community stands for." — Petra Griffith

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On this week's episode of LA Venture, hear from Marcos Gonzalez, the managing partner at Vamos Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund which invests in Latino and diverse founders. Over half of L.A. County is Latino. A relatively new fund, investments are in the range of $100,000 to $500,000. Seems like a great time to be investing in this community! And, Vamos is hiring...

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El Segundo-based telemedicine technology provider Cloudbreak Health and Florida-based UpHealth Holdings, a digital healthcare provider, announced they will combine and go public via a SPAC in a deal that values the combined companies at $1.35 billion.

Named UpHealth, Inc., the new company aims to streamline online health care by becoming a single provider of four different services: telehealth, teletherapy, a health care appointment and management system and an online pharmacy.

UpHealth runs healthcare platform Thrasys Inc. and MedQuest Pharmacy, along with two other behavioral health companies. The merger with Cloudbreak, which under the pandemic expanded their interpretation services to remote medicine, will give the new company a foothold in almost 2,000 hospitals.

"What we wanted to do was form a business that could really be a digital infrastructure for health care across the continuum of care, right from home to hospital," said Jamey Edwards, the co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak. Under the agreement, he will become the company's chief operating officer.

GigCapital2 expects the merger transaction to close at the start of Q1 2021. UpHealth will be publicly traded under the ticker "UPH" on the New York Stock Exchange. UpHealth's integrated care management platform serves over 5 million people, and is expected to reach 40 million over the next three years, according to the company.

Jamey Edwards, Cloudbreak

Jamey Edwards, co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak

COVID-19 caused a meteoric growth in the use of telehealth services. In February, 0.1% of Medicare primary visits were provided through telehealth. In April, that number was nearly 44%, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Key stakeholders have seen and responded well to the benefits that telemedicine can bring, but they need a more comprehensive, integrated solution," said Al Gatmaitan, who has been named the co-chief executive officer of UpHealth. "This is what UpHealth focuses on, the adoption of digital health solutions well beyond the pandemic crisis."

The deal with the blank check company GigCapital2 gives the two digital health companies access to a wider network. UpHealth and its family of companies operate in 10 countries and their pharmacy has 13,000 e-prescribers in the U.S.


UpHealth will use the Cloudbreak platform as part of their global telehealth services to provide patients with round-the-clock care under a variety of specialties, including telepsychiatry and tele-urology. UpHealth also has contracts internationally, to provide country-wide care in India, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Edwards joined Cloudbreak in 2008 when it went from public to private. It has raised $35 million in venture funds, most recently in the first quarter of this year scoring $10 million from Columbia Partners Private Capital.

Ryan Edwards, the co-founder of Happier Camper, said he's asked all the time if his company leans on influencer marketing to promote their vintage-style trailers beloved by millennials.

With a waitlist six months out and demand growing from hotel-weary travelers, he said it isn't a priority yet.

"We almost don't need to," said Edwards.

That's because the $25,000 to $50,000 custom trailers have been a hit with a loyal fan base, and rising demand during the pandemic has only helped. Orders for compact trailers at the lower price end, including Happier Camper's 75-square-foot camper, are growing as newbie road trippers look for COVID-safe travels.

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