Expanding the partnership within a VC firm is no trivial matter. Timing and fit are everything. It can be difficult, for example, to add a new partner during fundraising, or even mid-fund. More than simply justifying the addition of another mouth to feed, firms concern themselves with adding new and unique value to the partnership. Looking from the opposite perspective, the firm’s target must be prepared to leave their current role, be it at another investment firm or operating a company. For these reasons and more, the search can take months or years to complete.
It’s significant then that Los Angeles-based GRP Partners (GRP) is expanding its partner ranks today for the first time since August 2007, with the addition of former HauteLook CMO Greg Bettinelli as a Venture Partner. Bettinelli spent four years at the flash sale fashion etailer, including two years past its acquisition by Nordstrom, growing the company to more than 12 million registered users and nearly $300 million in annual sales. The experienced operator is also a co-founder of Santa Monica’s MuckerLab accelerator, and formerly held senior roles at LiveNation, StubHub, and Ebay.
“We look for well-rounded individuals, and we think operational experience and quantitative ability are extremely important,” Managing Partner Mark Suster says. “Greg is exactly those things. He experience in fashion ecommerce, ticketing, and marketplaces. Across all of his roles, he’s grown extremely experienced in online customer acquisition.”
Personally, I’ve known Greg since joining PandoDaily roughly a year ago, and have found him to be one of the most helpful and friendly members of the local tech ecosystem. Equally importantly, he is sharp as hell and is a true expert in the ecommerce domain. He’s typically brutally honest when asked for his thoughts on the the latest box of the month fad, or celebrity integration, but will celebrate a fundamentally sound business, regardless of the scale.
“I’ve been proud to make Los Angeles my home and enjoyed watching and participating in the explosion of the technology community over the past five years,” Bettinelli says. “GRP has been an important catalyst for building this expansion from the very start and is the most active today. I’m excited to now be a part of that.”
As a venture partner, Bettinelli will spend approximately 50 percent of his time at GRP, but will have full investment authority. His initial focuses will be in ecommerce, marketplaces, and consumer applications. Greg’s deal has been structured in a way, according to Suster, so as to incentivize him to work with companies in the broader GRP portfolio on customer growth initiatives. In addition to his role with the venture firm, Bettinelli will also spend time as an “Affiliated Executive” with the commerce-focused private equity firm, Freeman Spogli & Co.
Bettinelli joins current GRP partners, Yves Sisteron, Steven Dietz, Brian McLoughlin, and Mark Suster shortly after the firm completed raising a $200 million fourth fund in late 2012. The latest haul brings GRP, one of LA’s oldest and largest firms, to nearly $1 billion in total capital raised, with earlier funds including successful bets in Overture, CitySearch, BillMeLater and TrueCar. More recently, the firm has backed RingRevenue, Factual, Burstly, Pose, Gravity, Maker Studios, Seamless, GrubWithUs, ChowNow, and Yield Metrics, among others.
GRP – and Suster in particular – is extremely bullish on Los Angeles, but it sees itself as a nationwide firm. The group has investments in San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, and London, among other places.
“All of our partners are in LA, and we think that gives us a tremendous advantage having relationships here and seeing things in town before those outside,” Suster says. “But none of us are afraid to get on a plane once a week.” Anyone who follows the social media savvy investor online knows that he’s not exaggerating such a travel schedule.
In addition to Bettinelli, GRP has added three new associates this year, with a fourth to be announced shortly, according to Suster. The firm also added its first ever entrepreneur in residence (EIR), Sam Rosen, whose hustle Suster gushed over when announcing the addition via his personal blog. When I asked about the prospect of adding additional partners, Suster laughed, and simply said, “stay tuned.”