Garrett Camp Talks His Startup Studio, His New $200M Fund, And What He Thinks Of ‘Super Pumped’ – TechCrunch

When I first met Garrett Camp in March 2007 on a reporting assignment, it was at the San Francisco offices of StumbleUpon, a web discovery tool that had logged over 2 million hits. users and drew attention to Camp, the 20-year-old start-up. -year founder. Seed funded with $1.5 million by legendary angel Ram Shriram, among others, StumbleUpon would be acquired several months later by eBay for $75 million.

Then Camp’s career really took off.

Within two years, Camp had bought out StumbleUpon with a syndicate of investors (he later integrated the outfit into a new discovery app called Mix). Around the same time, in 2009, Camp began seriously tinkering with his on-demand car service idea — the one that made Uber famous and made Camp, which still owned 4% when Uber was went public in 2019, a multi-billionaire. .

Almost all the time, Camp, a Calgary native who now lives mostly in Los Angeles, has been churning out new business ideas. He can’t help it, he suggests in a Zoom chat. Saying he recently realized he had “like 3,500 notes” relating to starting a business in his iCloud account, he adds that “10% of them are ideas for new things – not all [that could be big companies] – but a solid 10″ that could.

Luckily for him, he has an adventure studio to bring those ideas to fruition, and it seems to be working well.

Expa, created in 2013, has previously worked with founders to launch businesses like challenger banking service Current (valued last year at $2.2 billion); a back-office platform for freelancers 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 linked to Expa were also acquired, including Cmd (from Elastic), Kit (from Ro) and Reserve (from Resy, itself acquired by Amex).

Now Camp is doubling down on Expa. For starters, while it originally launched with $50 million to invest and then raised $100 million in 2016, today it unveils a new $200 million fund, more than half of which is the Camp’s own capital.

The rest comes from multi-family offices like 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, Los Angeles and New York – has also just opened an office in London led by David Clark, who led external affairs at Uber for two years and most recently worked for Beacon, a London-based logistics company. startup founded by two other former Uber executives. (Beacon, with backing from Expa, raised $50 million in Series B funding last fall. Another Europe-based Expa deal is Wingcopter, a drone delivery company.)

Thus, the Expa team is larger than ever. In addition to Camp, Expa is now run by five partners, including its sole managing partner, Roberto Sanabria, who first worked for Camp at StumbleUpon after spending a few years at Google. Its most recent partner is Yuri Namikawa, who joined the firm in 2020 as a director of Norwest Venture Partners.

It could grow from here, given Camp’s personal resources – not to mention his background. Although today Expa doesn’t take money from pension funds or have any universities as sponsoring partners, that could change later, Camp says.

It is easy to imagine strong demand if Expa went in this direction. Although he invests in his own ideas – is an example of this, as is Aero, a luxury jet company that Camp sees as a huge opportunity – he is also proud to work closely with the founders with ideas that he likes and wants to help.

One example is Mos, a Series B startup that serves as a kind of student financial aid counselor. Mos founder Amira Yahyaoui “came up with the idea,” Camp says, but not much else. “We met over dinner through friends, and we hit it off, and I knew she would be successful. But she was starting from day one, so we helped her a little bit to get the branding and with fundraising products and advice. We didn’t start the business ourselves, but we were a partner.

Similarly, he says that Expa helped the Convoy digital freight network (now valued at billions of dollars) in its early days, even buying a business for Convoy founder Dan Lewis and naming it Convoy. domain in the form of a loan. (Camp says that when Lewis lifted Convoy’s first round, he reimbursed Camp. Camp explains that more generally, Expa helps with “branding, product design, early strategy, hiring, product market fit, how to increase your first round – just navigate those first two years.”)

Of course, as impressive as Expa may seem, there is still plenty of competition as more funds appear and heavyweights like Tiger move closer and closer to the start-up phase.

Asked about this, Camp suggests that nothing is as valuable as investors who have founded companies. He argues that Expa’s particular advantage is that its partners were very recently founding and, in some cases, currently running businesses.

Partner Vítor Lourenço previously helped start the Envoy work platform; Milun Tesovic, his partner, founded Cmd, the security startup that Elastic later acquired. Camp is himself CEO of several still stealth companies.

Furthermore, there are only a limited number of companies whose founders can claim credit for helping launch a company as transformative as Uber – a company that is so prominent in popular culture that entire books have been written about him — not to mention this new Showtime anthology series centered on his famously dramatic rise.

When asked if Camp was still in contact with Travis Kalanick, who helped him co-found Uber and was its high-profile CEO until his ousting in 2017 – Camp sent the memo that said to the employees that he was out – he says it was “a while.” He notes that Kalanick is “doing pretty well” with his new company, CloudKitchens. (When asked if he is an investor in the company, which is currently valued at $15 billion, Camp replies that he is not.)

Uber founding CEO Travis Kalanick. Picture credits: Getty Images / Elijah Nouvelage

As to whether he’s read those books or watches the show, Camp — who served on Uber’s board until 2020 but was never actively involved in its management — says he has met with longtime business reporters Brad Stone and Adam Lashinsky about their respective books involving Uber and that he participated in them but did not read them. He adds that “there are one or two other [books] that I do not have [read or participated in].” (New York Times reporter Mike Isaac is the author of 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 off. They put so much emphasis on certain things,” including the swanky office where Uber is headquartered on the show. Camp acknowledges that Uber’s actual headquarters in San Francisco — a few blocks from where the Golden State Warriors play — is pretty slick, but he notes that the company’s early days were far less glamorous.

“I was thinking [the show] could be a bit closer to ‘The Social Network’ where it was a bit more specific,” says Camp, who thinks he’ll “probably” watch the show more. Maybe when he finds more time. (He still hasn’t seen HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” he says.)

Right now, he’s still busy building his empire. Indeed, when I tell Camp that his trajectory since our first meeting sometimes amazes me, he laughs. “I didn’t expect that either.”


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