upfront ventures

upfront ventures

Courtesy of Upfront Ventures

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After taking last year off due to the pandemic, the Upfront Summit—the blowout venture capital conference staged by Santa Monica-based venture firm Upfront Ventures—was back with a bang this week. And befitting one of Los Angeles’ biggest VC industry events, the stars were out in full force at the Banc of California Stadium—including an Oscar-winning actress, multiple Grammy Award-winning musical artists and a Super Bowl-winning NFL quarterback.

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Courtesy of the Upfront Summit

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Jeffrey Katzenberg didn’t mince words when addressing the elephant in the room during his appearance at the Upfront Summit on Wednesday—saying he learned valuable lessons from the rapid demise of his short-form TV app Quibi.

“I'm humbled by [Quibi’s] failure; I’m glad we got out when we did and we were able to return money to investors,” Katzenberg said onstage at the venture capital conference in Downtown Los Angeles. He argued that while Quibi’s content was solid, the startup “didn’t have product-market fit”—alluding to its April 2020 launch amid the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Image courtesy of the Upfront Summit

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In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, the corporate world was forced to reckon with its responsibility to communities of color—and one of the industries with the most soul-searching to do was venture capital.

VC firms have tried to make strides toward racial equity in recent years, but for many of the industry’s leading Black investors, the changes have been mostly symbolic. Speaking at the Upfront Summit in Downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, Elliott Robinson, a partner at Bay Area venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners, said many VC firms opted to make surface-level changes that didn’t alter their actual, white-heavy power structures.

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