Exciting days for Invia Robotics.

I am super excited to partner with @DanGwak and P72 Ventures team on the @InviaRobotics $20M Series B investment. I believe what @liorelazary and his entire team are building is some of the most exciting technology coming out of #LongLA.

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We originally invested in Invia Robotics a year ago (before there were any real customers) and already their low-cost goods-to-person robotics solution is seamlessly integrating directly with human workers to automate fulfillment systems in the commerce warehouses. Live. In the wild.

The robots pick and deliver totes and trays directly to pickers, eliminating unnecessary, wasteful travel time in the warehouse aisles. The system merges with existing warehouse management software, offering a more complete solution with predictable costs and scalability. …


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It is no secret that Venture Capitalists like myself love startups operating in categories ripe for disruption — but what does that really look like? Well, it is a category whose standard technology was built on outdated principles. Whose business model is too entrenched by incumbents to properly modernize. Who is deeply unpopular or broken for its end-users. And where a clear technological or social change is clear and inevitable.

In what now feels like a previous life, I spent six-years of my career in live event ticketing (at eBay, StubHub and LiveNation), so I know firsthand that the category is one of the most outdated, unpopular, entrenched, and broken industries around. That is why I’m so excited for our investment in live event platform Rival, announced to the public today. …


That was literally my first question when I sat down at the Upfront Summit a few weeks ago to interview Colin Fan and Lydia Jett from Softbank’s Vision Fund. Along with — how does a team think about deploying $100B of capital? What post-investment value comes alongside the capital? And have they ever lost a deal?

Colin and Lydia answered all this (mostly) and more, giving the audience insight into Softbank and Masa Son’s 30-to-300 year vision for their portfolio companies — companies they expect to be historically transformational. …


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When we order something online, we want it yesterday…and for free. For this to happen, after an item is ordered, in the time it takes to stream of a Master of None episode, it needs to be picked and packed in the appropriate fulfillment warehouse, sorted and loaded onto the next departing truck, routed through transportation hubs for consolidation and deconsolidation, and finally put on a box truck for delivery to your home or place of work. Oh yeah — that doesn’t come cheap: probably $10/$15 per order.

Of course expertise in merchandising, pricing and product differentiation have been the table stakes for any commerce provider since the original general store, and whether online or offline they will never stop iterating and competing on merchandise. But giving consumers not just what they want, but how, where, and when they want it is the holy grail — and in the coming years, I believe as a result will truly drive the greatest shift in commerce, through amazing improvements made behind the scenes. …


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Lady Gaga at Super Bowl LI; Image courtesy of Intel

One of the most exciting parts of watching a new technology and market develop is observing the ancillary opportunities created that may not have been obvious initially. Often, these second-order innovations present meaningful investment opportunities, as the initial technology has enabled a market to develop and created fertile ground for new, related ideas to take root; sometimes, these ideas are actually solutions to brand new problems that this technology has created.


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Aerial footage via DroneBase

At the risk of stating the obvious, the very industry of venture capital is about investors taking a chance on companies, industries and markets that are not yet fully developed. That’s because true value creation — the kind of billion dollar-plus businesses — takes time, unbelievable effort, and more than a little good fortune. We are investing on the potential of a market or solution, in most times years before the business will have a scalable product. Sometimes, that means we pick companies with potential for long-term global impact or in companies with a bleeding-edge product that will be a catalyst for making a currently niche market a mass market one. …


The “pivot.” If you spend much time in the VC industry or reading tech press, it starts to sound like a cliche. Like a punchline. A last, desperate scramble to make something out of a business that, rightly or wrongly, couldn’t make their model work the way originally thought or how early metrics had indicated it might.

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And when you’re surrounded by examples of failed pivots, it can be easy to become jaded about them. …


This is a list of known firms and individuals with a home base or whose investment focus includes Southern California. It includes Accelerators, Angels, Corporate VCs, Family Offices, Hedge Funds, Seed Funds and Traditional VCs.

The list was inspired by @shaig‘s seed fund google doc. Tweet or comment additions, corrections or deletions. “Home base” definition and right to add is at my discretion. Investors w/ known funds are listed under Fund Name (ie: Matt Mazzeo via Lowercase Capital and Michael Eisner via Tornante Company)

Google Doc is accessible here. Originally created July 5, 2014 and has been modified many times.


If you’ve ever shopped online, you know firsthand that online returns can be a huge challenge. Unbeknownst to most outside observers, online shopping returns cause all sorts of problems for ecommerce providers too. The process is broken. For everyone.

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Specifically, commerce related returns are a costly, inefficient process that zap online retailer margins, tie up valuable inventory, and all too often result in frustrated customers. Adjacent to this imperfect merchant-consumer dynamic are traditional multi-channel retailers, whose offer of convenient, in-person, local infrastructure all too often falls on deaf ears. …


We are living in an era of unprecedented and ever increasing consumer expectations, with immediacy and seamless user experiences the new normal. But for most legacy brands and businesses, this level of execution is a bar very tough to clear. This is particularly true in the retail sector, where Amazon has cemented not only its “everything store” reputation, but also its position as the clear leader among retailers in terms of rapid fulfillment and scale.

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But while traditional retailers have faced obvious headwinds in this environment, they also possess some genuine and sometimes unappreciated advantages. One such advantage is the visibility and local reach afforded by a nationwide brick-and-mortar footprint. Collectively, the Top-50 non-grocery retailers represent more than 125,000 doors (insider term for number of stores) across the US (and $1.3 …

About

Greg Bettinelli

Los Angeles via Petaluma. Operator turned investor @UpfrontVC. Advisor @FreemanSpogli. Co-founder @MuckerLab. Former CMO @HauteLook (@Nordstrom), @eBay. #LongLA

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