Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Lerer Ventures Considers New $50 Million Fund With Hippeau Addition

One of the more interesting pieces of news that got pushed deep down in stories in the noisy swirl around AOL’s $315 million acquisition of the Huffington Post was the move of its CEO Eric Hippeau back to the investor side.

He’ll be going to Lerer Ventures, which is run by HuffPo co-founder, chairman and major investor Kenneth Lerer.

(In case you wondered: Yes, everyone is interconnected.)

Before landing at HuffPo in mid-2009, Hippeau was a high-profile venture capitalist at SoftBank Capital for many years, starting with his involvement in the legendary $100 million investment in Yahoo at its start.

Hippeau went to SoftBank Capital after selling Ziff-Davis to its parent SoftBank Corp. for $2.1 billion in 1995.

Now he is headed to Lerer, where Hippeau has been an adviser. It which has been run by Lerer and his son Ben–as well as VC and entrepreneur Jordan Cooper–as an angel investing at early-stage seed level.

About a year ago, the New York-based investment fund raised $8.5 million, all from friends, and has focused on 35 start-ups in the city.

Those have included GroupMe, a group texting service, and ad service AdKeeper.

Now, with the addition of Hippeau as a general partner, while still spending down the initial fund, Lerer Ventures is considering a second fund of up to $50 million to allow it flexibility to invest in later stages.

That’s an increasingly common strategy of late, most prominently at Andreessen Horowitz.

“I am really glad to be getting back into investing, since the New York area is especially vibrant at the moment,” said Hippeau in an interview today, who noted that Lerer Ventures also has some investments in Silicon Valley. “And we are really determined to look at changing the way funds are organized.”

And now that he’ll not have a job with the AOL buy–“It has a very good CEO in Tim Armstrong,” joked Hippeau–and having just also stepped down from the Yahoo board, he will have plenty of time to consider all that.

Hippeau listed social, mobile and commerce as big investment arenas, as well as companies related to tablet devices.

“At the Huffington Post, we could see the changes happening to how we distribute our content were becoming profound,” Hippeau said. “It’s a completely different experience.”

I also talked to Ken Lerer, who said that the fund–started off pretty simply–will be trying to define itself more in the coming months before fundraising begins.

“Ben and Jordan are especially plugged into the New York scene–these start-ups were created by their friends,” he said. “And Eric and I bring a different skill set and perspective on top of that.”

Lerer also expressed interest in commerce, as well as local and real-time technologies.

“While it is always an interesting time on the Internet,” he said, fresh from the AOL sale of the HuffPo, in which he was the largest individual shareholder. “But right now is a really interesting time.”

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— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post