First Round Capital Roundup 4/13/2012

Tom Paine

First Round Capital has been a very lean firm in terms of overhead as it has grown its portfolio to some 120+ companies (according to its website). But recently it has taken some steps towards adding more support infrastucture. Early this month First Round announced the addition of Jack Leidlein, previously Head of Business Operations & Recruiting at Scribd, as Head of Talent. Late last year FRC added Cece Cheng, a Princeton grad whose background is mostly in PR and corporate communication, as an Associate. Other staff (excluding Partners or Principals) are Brett Berson, who was recently promoted to VP of Platform, and CFO Jeff Donnon, who goes back with Josh Kopelman to I'm sure there must be some other support staff, but don' know how many or where they are located. I believe Berson and Donnon are based out of Conshohocken, but Cheng is based in San Francisco and Leidlein will split time between New York and San Francisco.

To what extent FRC may add additional centralized support resources is unknown. As a seed stage investor, First Round's assets under management are still relatively small (a few hundred million as opposed to $1 billion plus), and it is difficult to support the type of overhead some larger venture firms are developing.

Chances that FRC might move from Conshohocken to Philadelphia (in a job ad earlier this year caught by Technically Philly the firm said it was considering such a move) could get a boost if Mayor Nutter signs a bill recently passed by City Council 16 to 1 exempting investment funds and their general partners from the city's 6.5 percent business tax on profits. The Inquirer reported early this month that Mayor Nutter was "leaning toward" signing the bill.

Josh Kopelman took an active role in publicly supporting the JOBS Act, which in an amazing event for this day and age was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President on April 5.

Portfolio company Monetate lists 18 open positions on FRC's job board, about 7 of which appear engineering-oriented. The Conshohocken-based eCommerce software firm recieved seed funding and a follow on round led by FRC and later a much larger round lead by Boston's OpenView Venture Partners.

FRC is moving to larger quarters in the same building on Union Square in New York, so it is offering a sublease on its old 3,000 square foot office on 200 Park Avenue South.

FRC is one of many (big name seed and angel) investors in mobile development startup Cabana, which has just launched a product called Fan Page Mobilizer aimed at bringing small businesses' Facebook fan pages to smartphones. The goal is to provide an easy to use tool that non-technical small business users can set up by themselves. Cabana is based in San Francisco.

Silicon Alley Insider reports that New York-based Fab continues to do very well since its pivot and relaunch last June. The FRC-backed fashion-oriented site now has a $100 milion annual run rate and 225 employees.

Forbes has a piece on New York-based SinglePlatform, which as its name implies provides one platform from which a small business can manage its content across all of its social media sites. Sales are expected to grow from $2 million last year to $15 million in 2012.

LA-based DogVacay raised $1 million led by FRC to address a need any dog owner can relate to: it matches people seeking a nice environment for their dog to stay while they're away with qualified people willing to take in and care for the dogs in their own homes. And Yummly, a recipe site with an emphasis on eating healthy, came back for a second helping of funding ($6 miilion) from a prestigious investor group, including Unilever. FRC was a return investor. Co-founders David Feller and Vadim Geshel are both veterans of who moved to California (where Yummly is based) after its acquisition by eBay.

I wrote about myYearbook (in which FRC was an early investor) and its now parent company Quepasa's decision to rebrand as MeetMe. They reportedly paid a good deal of money for the rights to the domain name. I also covered Solve Media's intoduction of its CAPTCHA-like offering for opting out of pre-roll video ads, and got some info on the size of Solve's current presence in Philly.