October 30, 2014
Following his keynote at this year’s Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference, Tony Hsieh sat down with Frank Gruber for an extended Q&A session. In attendance were 25 members of the foreign press from all over the globe, working out of Las Vegas with the help of the State Department.
Primarily, the CEO of Zappos wanted to clear the air of any rumors that he would be stepping down from his role at the Downtown Project. Bluntly speaking, it wasn’t the least bit true. Rather, it was based on a miscommunication.
The Downtown Project is a term used to define a grouping of about 300 different businesses and legal entities. There are a few that the Downtown Project owns, like the Gold Spike or the Container Park, but the vast majority of the companies are partners.
Hsieh’s initial statement was that he isn’t involved in the day-to-day operations of these 300 something companies, which is more than understandable. Somewhere along the way, though, it was misconstrued.
After setting the record straight, Hsieh dug into it with the audience, fielding questions from topics ranging from challenges starting up to the future of the VegasTechFund. The fund was set up to jumpstart the tech ecosystem in Downtown Vegas, and Hsieh and the VTF partners invested in about 100 companies.
Now that the Downtown Las Vegas tech ecosystem has gotten some traction under it, Hsieh has been reassessing certain investments. VTF realized that they should be offering follow-on funding to the most successful companies, but hadn’t previously accounted for how to provide these funds. They found that most of the tech startups had only taken an average of $300,000 rather than the $500,000 cap. This was when the decision was made to double down on the remaining approximately $20 million left in the fund.
Recently, some of the exciting news around this double-down plan was announced. For instance, the VegasTechFund AngelList Syndicate was announced, which will add to the round that Buffer is currently raising. Additionally, the announcement of a follow-on investment of $5 to $10 million was said to be following soon to one portfolio company who is doing “so amazingly well.” The recipient of that major investment may have been listed in a recent PandoDaily article which confirmed many of the changes being made at VegasTechFund.
Here’s the video:
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