Another Major Win for LA Tech

I was in France and the UK for business last week so I was a bit out of the tech news cycle and more focused on the world events that were happening nearby.

But one tech news story stood out for me — the fact that LA-based Dollar Shave Club (DSC) was sold to Unilever for $1 billion. This continues to solidify Los Angeles’ place as a major player in the global tech ecosystem and while any one success doesn’t define a city — the number of high-profile startups and exits has definitely increased.

This is a huge moment for Michael Dubin who had the vision, the market genius, the operating chops and the perseverance to prevail even after the venture funding markets had wrongly written off eCommerce as a category.

Michael has always impressed me since the days of the original launch video that was perhaps the best startup launch video of all time — 23 million views and counting. Because I work so closely with video companies I’ve been very vocal with startups I’ve backed about the need to invest in high-quality video to help support a brand. It doesn’t always have to be humorous but it needs to be high quality and memorable.

This was also a huge moment for Mike Jones and Peter Pham and the whole team at Science who were early backers of DSC and really helped create visibility for the company and the category and helped when the company was nascent. This is a big win, for sure.

It was a great win for David Pakman and Venrock, an early and large backer of DSC. I really enjoyed reading his analysis of why he backed the company. Frankly, it’s awesome to see a VC articulate a vision for the kind of company they would back in a given category. In his post he says:

I’m not an eCommerce expert enough to critique but his outline sounds sensible to me.

My friend Jamey Sperans says I don’t talk often enough about my “anti portfolio” or the deals I wish I had done. I think it’s mostly because when I see local companies (Snapchat, Tinder, DSC, Scopely, Honest Company) that I didn’t invest in do great I’m mostly happy for them more than bitter about missing out.

I saw DSC before they launched and as I’m not an expert in eCommerce or consumer products I didn’t have a strong point-of-view on the category. But I knew instantly in seeing that video that Dubin was at a minimum a market genius and had a product that would resonate to a segment of the market.

So of course I would love to have been an investor in DSC. Let it serve as a reminder to me that as ever what really matters as a VC is finding truly talented entrepreneurs early and getting behind their vision and not vice-versa.

But mostly I’m just happy for Michael, his team, for Science and for the continued success of the Los Angeles startup community. Congratulation. Onward and upward.