The playbook looks strangely familiar now: Start a blog, sell it to AOL, parlay your success into a series of conferences highlighting up-and-coming startups, then leverage your influence and access to raise a venture fund and invest in the companies you highlight.
Mike Arrington did it with TechCrunch and his $20 million Crunchfund.
Now Launch founder Jason Calacanis (who found success with the sale of Weblogs Inc. to AOL in 2005) is raising a $10 million fund of his own, which will invest exclusively in companies that appear at one of his four Launch events. The new fund will be called, appropriately enough, the Launch Fund.
It’s win-win for the companies, who gain funding as well as exposure and prestige from their association with the conference. Launch is an increasingly hot series of events, including the main Launch Festival, an education-focused Launch event, a mobile-focused event, and a Launch Hackathon.
“We are not disclosing the size of the fund,” Calacanis told PE Hub (although an SEC filing discloses a $10 million target). “We will invest in 5 to 10 startups a year, $25-100k.”
Calacanis will be the sole general partner, meaning he’ll be primarily responsible for all the investment decisions. He also said he has invested in about 30 startups as an angel investor over the years and that he’s one of the top 10 angels according to AngelList, so “it made sense to make a fund.” (He’s actually 4th on AngelList, by number of followers.)
Calacanis cited Demo founder turned VC Stewart Alsop as inspiration for both Launch and the new fund.
Along with his own money, Calacanis’ new fund will include an investment from Yammer co-founder David Sacks, and a yet-to-be-named third LP.
(Disclosures: VentureBeat competes with TechCrunch and Launch with our publications and events. VentureBeat also co-produced DEMO, with IDG, from 2008 to 2012. And I used to work for Stewart Alsop, when he was editor-in-chief of InfoWorld.)
Hat tip: PE Hub
Photo credit: Joi Ito/Flickr