A lot of changes are afoot at Century City venture capital firm GRP Partners. For one thing, it’s no longer called GRP Partners. And, in 2014, it will no longer be in Century City.
Last week, partners at the firm announced they had changed the name of one of L.A.’s largest tech investors to Upfront Ventures. Along with the new name, the business will be getting a new location at Seventh Street and Arizona Boulevard in Santa Monica, at the epicenter of the Westside tech economy.
Coupled with these changes is the announcement of a new $200 million fund. It’s the same size as the previous fund, and maintains the firm’s role as one of the biggest local spenders. Only Santa Monica’s Greycroft Partners and Rustic Canyon Partners are also in that range.
Despite these changes, the investment strategy will stay the same. Upfront will continue to be a lead investor in seed and A rounds, as well as follow-on in a few later-stage opportunities. Standard investment sizes range from $500,000 up to $12 million.
Mark Suster, a general partner at the renamed firm, said the changes reflect a progressing era in tech and venture capital. Even the logo, which shows an overlapping “f” and “r” are signifiers of that shift.
“It’s a lot more transparent of an industry than it used to be,” Suster said. “When entrepreneurs decide who they want to have as investors, brand matters.”
GRP began in the mid-1990s with investments in companies such as search engine Overture and listing site Citysearch. The firm has increased its focus on L.A. companies in the intervening years; Suster said more than two-thirds of the previous fund’s money was directed toward local startups.
Some of GRP’s current investments are in Culver City YouTube network Maker Studios and Marina del Rey mobile app maker TextPlus Inc.
An e-commerce service dedicated to flowers has blossomed with a fresh set of funding. Bouqs has taken in $1.1 million in – you’ll love this – seed funding to ramp up its flower delivery service. Among the cadre of investors are Santa Monica’s Siemer Ventures and Menlo Park’s Quest Venture Partners.
Here’s how Bouqs works: People who want to order them for others purchase a bouquet directly from the site for $40, shipping included – an extra $10 buys a double order. The flowers are shipped directly from South America.
There is also a subscription option, where a bundle of angiosperms can be preordered and delivered on specific days when such gestures are encouraged, such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Though the company is flush with money for the time being – no small feat given the investment community’s recent animus toward e-commerce startups – competition in the flower delivery business is fierce. Both
1-800 Flowers.com Inc., a publicly traded megaconglomerate, and FTD, which is part of Woodland Hills company United Online Inc., generate nine figures annually in floral sales and delivery.
Shares of Web publisher Demand Media Inc. took a dive last week as the company put out a release announcing it had acquired Society6, in a deal worth $94 million.
Shares closed June 26 at $6.20, down 27 percent for the week, making it the biggest loser on the LABJ Stock Index. (See page 26.) But it wasn’t the purchase of an e-commerce marketplace that sent prices tumbling.
Buried in the release was an announcement that the company was revising its second quarter guidance downward and withdrawing its 2013 estimates.
Demand’s revenue projection for the quarter had been as high as $107 million, but was revised to $100 million.
The company blamed a reduction in traffic driven by Google Inc. There have been problems with the search giant since 2011, when Google first rejiggered its algorithm to downgrade content deemed to be lower quality. That hurt Demand in particular, which had been labeled by some as a content farm that pumps out low-quality articles. Demand largely makes money through banner ads placed near articles published on its owned-and-operated sites, including eHow and Livestrong.
In recent months, the company has been shifting its strategy to expert-driven content and subscription models and away from freelance articles.
The newly acquired Society6, which lets crafts people upload and sell items through an online marketplace, is a part of that diversification. Yet analysts, two of whom recently cut their ratings, appear unconvinced that the new business would outweigh the slumping revenue.
Staff reporter Tom Dotan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 549-5225, ext. 263.
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