Grouper, Spinner founders enter VC fray

September 12, 2011

Think of the founders of Freestyle Capital as the Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz for the seed-round set.

Serial entrepreneurs Josh Felser and Dave Samuel have been playing around making investments for the last couple years, but only recently decided to go public about Freestyle. “We kind of wanted to make sure we were decent at this,” Felser explains. So far, so good– Freestyle has already shepherded through exits for three portfolio companies, including the sale of social-analytics company Backtype to microblogging company Twitter earlier this month.
Now, the two are throwing the veils off Freestyle, which is a $27 million fund making investments in the social Internet. The investments in the 21 companies the duo made before formally opening their fund are getting rolled into the product, which includes fund of funds Hall Capital and Weathergage among its limited partners.
Felser and Samuel plan to invest around $500,000 in each start-up, typically in the social Internet.
Like Andreessen and Horowitz, Felser and Samuel have worked together as entrepreneurs for years– albeit on a smaller scale. Five years ago they sold online video company Grouper to Sony for $65 million; before that, they sold music site Spinner to AOL for $320 million.
For now, Freestyle will stick to the seed stage of investing, even though the field is rather crowded these days. But Felser and Samuel say they can add value through their own work as entrepreneurs. And seed is what they know best. Once the companies grow bigger, there are “better investors than we are to give them advice,” Felser says.

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