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Marcy Venture Partners, co-founded by Jay-Z, Raises $85M Fund

Marcy Venture Partners, the VC firm co-founded by Jay-Z, Jay Brown and Larry Marcus, raised $85 million for its first fund, according to a new filing.

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Marcy Venture Partners, which was founded last year and is based in San Francisco, focuses on consumer brands. Its name is a nod to Brooklyn’s Marcy Houses where Jay-Z grew up.

The firm has already made a number of deals. It’s invested in six companies so far, leading the rounds for three, according to Crunchbase. Its most recent investment was in electric mobility startup Wheels in October 2019, and the largest round it’s led so far was a $70 million round for singer Rihanna’s lingerie line Savage X Fenty. The firm’s first investment since it was founded in March 2019 was Hungry Marketplace’s $8 million Series A in April 2019.

It’s a quick pace of investing for the first seven months of a VC firm’s existence, but the co-founders are no strangers to the world of venture capital.

Jay Brown, who co-founded Roc Nation with Jay-Z and served as its CEO until late last year, has invested in companies like BeautyCon and Right Rice. Jay-Z, hip-hop’s first billionaire, is also known for backing high-profile companies like Uber and Impossible Foods. And Larry Marcus is a seasoned venture capitalist. He’s the director of Walden Venture Capital, which invested in companies like Pandora and SoundHound, and he backed companies like Netflix and BandPage as an angel investor, according to Walden VC’s website.

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The investment comes just seven months after OneTrust raised an also massive $200 million Series A at a $1.3 billion valuation.

Women and family health startup Maven raised $45 million in its Series C round, bringing its total funding to more than $87 million.

Source: Crunchbase News

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Shadows’ Dylan Flinn and Kombo’s Kevin Gould on the business of ‘virtual influencers’

In films, TV shows and books — and even in video games where characters are designed to respond to user behavior — we don’t perceive characters as beings with whom we can establish two-way relationships. But that’s poised to change, at least in some use cases.

Interactive characters — fictional, virtual personas capable of personalized interactions — are defining new territory in entertainment. In my guide to the concept of “virtual beings,” I outlined two categories of these characters:

  • virtual influencers: fictional characters with real-world social media accounts who build and engage with a mass following of fans.
  • virtual companions: AIs oriented toward one-to-one relationships, much like the tech depicted in the films “Her” and “Ex Machina.” They are personalized enough to engage us in entertaining discussions and respond to our behavior (in the physical world or within games) like a human would.

Part 2 of 3: the business of virtual influencers

Today’s discussion focuses on virtual influencers: fictional characters that build and engage followings of real people over social media. To explore the topic, I spoke with two experienced entrepreneurs:

  • Dylan Flinn is CEO of Shadows, an LA-based animation studio that’s building a roster of interactive characters for social media audiences. Dylan started his career in VC, funding companies such as Robinhood, Patreon and Bustle, and also spent two years as an agent at CAA.
  • Kevin Gould is CEO of Kombo Ventures, a talent management and brand incubation firm that has guided the careers of top influencers like Jake Paul and SSSniperWolf. He is the co-founder of three direct-to-consumer brands — Insert Name Here, Wakeheart and Glamnetic — and is an angel investor in companies like Clutter, Beautycon and DraftKings.

Source: TechCrunch