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Social Influencers, Business Execs Launch Gen Z Venture Fund Called Animal Capital

Social Influencers, Business Execs Launch Gen Z Venture Fund Called Animal Capital

Social media influencers and entrepreneurs Josh Richards, Griffin Johnson and Noah Beck, in partnership with Marshall Sandman and Michael Gruen, launched Animal Capital.

What Happened: As society transitions from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, into the so-called "Roaring Twenties," Animal Capital is launching the first Generation Z-focused venture capital fund, to promote innovation and scale in areas such as fintech, healthtech, and media, with the help of digital creator megastars at the founder-level.

Sandman, who is a former strategy, venture and business development executive for WarnerMedia and previously an investment banker at Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), and Gruen, co-founder of Talent X, a talent and entertainment management company for digital creatives, will serve as managing partners.

Richards, Johnson and Beck will serve as operating partners. Part of Animal’s advisory team is Justin Kan, co-founder of Twitch; Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, a former Google, Amazon, and StubHub executive; Jana Messerschmidt of Lightspeed Venture Partners and #ANGELS; Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss of Winklevoss Capital; and Jason Levine of NewFlow Partners.

"We're so excited to launch this brand-new model of VC investment, which will provide traditional resources to grow brands while also driving direct awareness among millions of potential customers," Richards said. "With the team we've assembled, I have no doubt that Animal Capital will set a new standard in the investment space."

Why It Matters: Animal Capital, with its ties to media talents, will go beyond the services of a traditional venture fund.

Richards, Johnson and Beck, along with their broad network, will leverage their reach to tap into purchasing decisions of an entirely new generation of consumers.

"We're focusing on nascent companies at the pre-seed, seed and series A stages because, with our large and influential platform, we believe we can really affect business outcomes for these brands," said Sandman, who has engineered more than a dozen VC investments on behalf of Richards and the Sway House creative collective. "Though Josh, Griff and Noah are young, I give them a lot of credit for putting a team in place with a solid background and track record. It shows a great deal of maturity."

The fund has already invested in several successful startups including social media platform Breakr, Step, a banking app, and Super Coffee.

"We want to set an example for other digital creators who maybe haven't thought about how to leverage their value outside of the traditional endorsement structure," Gruen said. "Digital creators have a lot to offer. They are uniquely tapped into the culture, but without a larger stake in these companies, they're effectively leaving money on the table."


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