Garrett Camp on His Startup Studio, New $200 Million Fund, and What He Makes of ‘Super Pumped’ – TechCrunch

When I first met Garrett Camp on a reporting assignment in March 2007, it was in the San Francisco offices of StumbleUpon, a web discovery tool that had registered more than 2 million users and drew attention to Camp, the startup’s 20-year-old. year-old founder. Seed funded with $1.5 million by the likes of legendary angel Ram Shriram, StumbleUpon would be bought by eBay several months later for $75 million.

Then Camp’s career really took off.

Within two years, Camp had bought back StumbleUpon with a syndicate of investors (he later folded the outfit together into a newer discovery app called Mix). Around the same time, in 2009, Camp came up with the idea for an on-demand car service that became the famous Uber and that turned Camp, who still owned 4% of it when Uber went public in 2019, into a multi-billionaire.

Most of the time, Camp, a Calgary resident who now lives primarily in Los Angeles, has been developing new business ideas. He can’t help it, he suggests in a Zoom chat. While he said he recently realized he had “like, 3,500 notes” related to building a business in his iCloud account, he adds that “10% of those are ideas for new things — not all of them.” [that could be big companies] – but a solid 10″ that could.

Luckily for him, he has a venture studio to turn those ideas into a reality, and things seem to be going pretty well.

Founded in 2013, Expa has already partnered with founders to launch companies such as the challenger banking service Current (valued at $2.2 billion last year); a back-office platform for the self-employed called Collective (it closed a $20 million Series A round last year); and an open source business intelligence tool called Metabase (it raised $30 million in Series B funding last year).

Several startups associated with Expa have also been acquired, including Cmd (to Elastic), Kit (to Ro), and Reserve (to Resy, which was itself acquired by Amex).

Now Camp Expa doubles. For starters, while it originally launched with $50 million to invest and then raised another $100 million in 2016, it is today closing a new $200 million fund, more than half of which is Camp’s equity. .

The rest comes from multifamily offices such as Iconiq and Epiq, individual family offices and wealthy investor friends. Among them is Shriram, who wrote one of the first checks to Google and remains on Alphabet’s board.

Expa — which already had offices in San Francisco, LA and New York — also just opened an office in London, headed by David Clark, who ran outside affairs at Uber for two years and more recently worked for Expa-backed company Beacon. a London-based logistics startup founded by two other former Uber execs. (Beacon raised $50 million in Series B funding last fall. Another recent Europe-based Expa deal is Wingcopter, a drone delivery company.)

In total, Expa is now run by five partners, in addition to Camp. The sole managing partner is Roberto Sanabria, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the company and first worked for Camp at StumbleUpon, after a handful of years at Google.

The newest partner is Yuri Namikawa, who joined the company in 2020 as director of Norwest Venture Partners.

It could grow from here, given Camp’s personal resources — not to mention his track record. Indeed, while Expa doesn’t take money from pension funds or view universities as limited partners, that could change later, Camp says.

It’s easy to imagine that there’s a lot of demand if Expa goes that way. While it invests in its own ideas – is an example, as is Aero, a luxury jet company that Camp sees as a huge opportunity – it also prides itself on working closely with founders with ideas it likes and wants. help out.

One example is Mos, a series B-phase startup that acts as a sort of financial aid advisor for students. Moss founder Amira Yahyaoui “had the idea,” Camp says, but not much else. “We met over dinner through friends, and we clicked, and I knew she would be successful. But she started from day one, so we kind of helped her get the branding and with products and fundraising advice. We didn’t start the company ourselves, but we were a partner.”

Likewise, he says Expa has helped the digital freight network Convoy (now valued in the billions of dollars) through its nascent stages, even buying a business for Convoy founder Dan Lewis and giving him the domain name as a loan. (Camp says that when Lewis raised Convoy’s first round, he refunded Camp. Camp explains that Expa more generally helps with “branding, product design, early strategy, recruiting, product-market fit, how to increase your first round – just basically navigating those first two years.”)

Of course, as impressive as Expa may seem, it still has a lot of competition as more money rolls in and heavy hitters like Tiger get closer and closer to the company’s founding stage.

When asked about this, Camp suggests that nothing is as valuable as investors who have founded companies. He argues that Expa’s particular advantage lies in the fact that its partners were very recently founders and, in some cases, are currently running businesses.

Partner Vítor Lourenço previously helped set up the Envoy workplace platform; partner Milun Tesovic founded Cmd, the security startup that Elastic later took over. Camp himself is CEO of several still-stealth companies.

Besides, there are only so many companies whose founders can boast of helping launch a company as transformative as Uber—a company so big in popular culture that entire books have been written about it—to say the least. not to mention that new Showtime anthology series centered on his famously dramatic rise.

When asked if Camp is still in touch with Travis Kalanick, who helped him found Uber and served as its high-profile CEO until his ouster in 2017 — Camp sent the memo informing employees he was gone — he says it was “a while.” Meanwhile, he notes that Kalanick is “doing quite well” with his new company, CloudKitchens. (Asked if he’s an investor in the outfit, which is reportedly valued at $15 billion right now, Camp says of not.)

Uber founder Travis Kalanick. Image Credit: Getty Images / Elijah Nouvelage

Whether he’s read those books or watches the show, Camp — who was on Uber’s board until 2020 but was never actively involved in running it — says he met longtime corporate reporters Brad Stone and Adam Lashinsky about their respective books about Uber and that he took part in it, but didn’t read them. He adds that “there is one or two others” [books] I do not have that [read or participated in]† (New York Times reporter Mike Isaac wrote the book “Super Pumped” on which the Showtime series is based.)

Regarding the TV show, he says he watched the first episode, calling it “so inaccurate.” The timing is out. They put so much emphasis on certain things,” including the posh office where Uber’s headquarters are located in the show. Camp acknowledges that Uber’s actual headquarters in San Francisco — blocks from where the Golden State Warriors play — is pretty slick, but notes the company’s early days were much less glamorous.

“I thought [the show] maybe a little closer to ‘The Social Network’ where it was a little more accurate,” says Camp, who thinks he’ll “probably watch more of the series.” Maybe when he has more time. (He still hasn’t seen HBO’s Silicon Valley, he says.) At the moment, he’s still building his empire.

Indeed, when I tell Camp that his trajectory since our first sit-down sometimes surprises me, he laughs. “I didn’t expect this either.”

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