LA Venture: Marcy Venture Partners’ Charlie Hanna on Culture-Informed Investment

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+, 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.
Charlie Hanna
Image courtesy of Marcy Venture Partners

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, Marcy Venture Partners (MVP) investor Charlie Hanna talks about celebrity investments and how cultural trends inform the group’s investment strategies.

Jay-Z, Jay Brown and Larry Marcus founded MVP—named after the Marcy Projects where Jay-Z grew up—in 2018 and have since grown the fund from $30 million to $900 million assets under management (AUM).

The company is focused on consumer culture and positive impact as it considers inclusivity, accessibility, empowerment, multiculturalism, health and wellness, Hanna said. Having access to Jay-Z and Jay Brown’s network through their entertainment agency Roc Nation helps MVP keep a close eye on cultural trends and see which products are taking off.

MVP is focused on leading Series A and B funding rounds. Its Fund II typically writes checks of between $5 million and $15 million and eyes companies with high potential for growth and virality that appeal to younger demographics. Additionally, Hanna said, over 70% of the entrepreneurs MVP has invested in are women or people of color.

“It's not to say that we have a mandate to invest in women or people of color,” Hanna said. “It's really that, if you are building a consumer brand in the 21st century and you don't have some diversity on your founding team, you're just straight-up not going to be as successful.”

MVP has invested in companies ranging from the maker of the Lomi Home Compost Machine to Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage X Fenty. Because the consumer market moves so quickly, Hanna said MVP performs qualitative and quantitative research on groups of college and high school students to determine whether products are working with that influential audience.

“Because they're going to be the next, biggest consumer. And where the largest share of wallet, you know, is headed,” he said.

Much of MVP’s work highlights how celebrity investments can help companies scale quickly. Simply posting photos with products or spreading the word among friends can help the companies they work with reach large audiences. MVP views talent as people who are also brands, adding that Jay-Z wanted MVP to back entrepreneurs who can follow in his brand-building footsteps.

“One of the things that I think is really interesting that if you look at some of the billionaires in music—whether it's Jay-Z, whether it's Kanye West, whether it's Rihanna—the funny thing about all three of them is none of them made their billion dollars in music,” Hanna said. “They all made it in brand building.”

Hanna, who previously worked at talent agencies, said more venture capital firms are beginning to specialize in helping artists invest their own money instead of taking endorsement deals with companies.

“I actually think that venture capital as a profession is a lot like being a talent manager,” he said. “When you're a talent agent, you're providing an artist with the resources, the networks, the expertise to realize their creative vision—whether that's an album or tour, or movie or play, whatever it might be. As a venture capitalist, you are providing a founder with the resources, the expertise, the capital, the co-investors to realize their creative vision, their company.”

Click the link above to hear the full episode, and subscribe to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA editorial intern Kristin Snyder contributed to this post.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Rivian Q2 Earnings Are a Much-Needed Nothing Burger

David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

Rivian R1S at a charging station in the desert.
Rivian's Q2 numbers are delightfully boring.

Rivian, the fledgling electric vehicle startup in Irvine, CA, released its Q2 earnings yesterday. I’m happy to report they’re pretty boring! There were no big surprises from RJ Scaringe’s EV hopeful, but here are the report highlights:

  • ~$15 billion of cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash as of June 30 2022.
  • 98,000 net R1 preorders
  • Amazon has ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans
  • Rivian has produced 8k vehicles so far
  • The company is still on pace to deliver 25,000 vehicles in 2022
  • -Actual revenue was $364 million.
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