Change Ahead

There must be something in the Spring air in Los Angeles, because March has brought an unusually high level of change in the local VC landscape. The positive takeaway for the market is that it’s all meant more capital and deeper bench of investors talent focused on the local ecosystem. The first  news to hit was the launch of Adam Lilling’s influencer fund, Plus Capital. Less than a week later, GRP announced the addition of its first new partner in a half decade, recruiting Greg Bettinelli away from the CMO suite at HauteLook. These moves follow last fall’s launch of Chris Sacca’s LA-focused Lowercase Stampede and the formation of Karlin Ventures’ evergreen early stage fund.

Today brings more positive change, although this time a prominent VC is switching teams. Mark Terbeek, a former partner at MK Capital with a reputation as one of the preeminent digital media investors in town, has joined Greycroft Partners as its fourth partner. He will head up the firm’s LA office in partnership with co-founder Dana Settle.

“LA and New York are the two largest media markets, in terms of both content and advertising, and Greycroft has a presence in both,” Terbeek says. “We’re looking to build a dominant media-venture fund, and I think this positioning gives us incredible access and a holistic sense of how whole content and monetization value chain operates.”

While at MK, Terbeek made what seem to be winning bets on Machinima, ZEFR, DramaFever, Awesomeness TV (a Greycroft co-investment), and Kontiki, among others. He will look to continue that media focus at Greycroft, which has its own attractive portfolio within the category, including Maker Studios, Fanhattan, GameSalad, and Pulse, as well as formerly the Huffington Post and Paid Content. Other notable transactions for the firm include Buddy Media, Babble, Klout, M5 Networks, and Trunk Club.

Despite his strong reputation, to pigeonhole Terbeek into media would be unfair. As the co-founder of an early SaaS company called Jamcracker in 1999, a former McKinsey consultant, and a graduate of Stanford Business School, he has technical and business chops as well. He put these skills to good use while at MK, making several data center automation investments including those in Bladelogic and VPNet Technologies.

Mark is extremely well regarded in town and shows the reason why in his handling of his exit from MK. Having worked with his fellow partners for more than 11 years, and several of his portfolio companies for nearly half that time, he describes the last few months as “emotionally draining,” but calls the transition “amicable.” Terbeek will slowly transition out of his MK-affiliated board responsibilities, but will likely become an outside board member in many cases and at minimum an advisor in the others.

Greycroft is just beginning to invest out of its third fund, a $175 million pool closed in November of last year. The timing makes sense in this regard, given the difficulty in bringing on a new partner mid-fund, or even while fundraising. Greycroft was already regarded as one of the the most prominent and active investors in town, despite its limited resources. The firm will surely benefit from Terbeek’s unique experience, but increasing its partner-level bandwidth in LA by 100 percent should be an equally welcome addition. (The fact that Terbeek and Settle’s families are already close is a bonus.)

MK, has one remaining Los Angeles partner, former Vice Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and President of Sony Pictures Digital Yair Landau, as well as four Chicago partners. The firm is at the tail end of its $150 million second fund and has $250 million under management in total. There is no word on the prospect of adding a new LA partner, but we have reason to believe that MK is currently in the midst of raising a third fund.

When the dust settles following all these recent move, the biggest winner will be the LA ecosystem which will have fresh capital and several well-regarded investors eager to make an impact in their new surroundings.