First Round Capital seeks to spur Phila. with move

Aug 20, 2012 11 years ago

Source site: Philadelphia Business Journal

by Peter Key, Reporter

First Round Capital, the early-stage venture-capital firm founded by technology entrepreneur Josh Kopelman, is moving its headquarters from West Conshohocken to Philadelphia’s University City section.

“I’m giving up my comfy office park and my very short seven-minute commute to try to catalyze some change in the city,” Kopelman said.

“This is me sort of getting off the sidelines and trying to get more engaged in Philadelphia.”

Kopelman announced the move Wednesday on his blog, Redeye VC, whose name is a reference to the fact that although Kopelman considers the Philadelphia area to be his home, First Round does much of its investing in Silicon Valley.

First Round’s new office will be in a building on 40th and Locust streets that once housed the first store opened by Urban Outfitters Inc., which now has its headquarters at The Navy Yard in South Philadelphia.

The company will take 10,000 square feet to house its staff and provide space for startups, both inside and outside its portfolio, networking events and entrepreneurs to hang out and work.

Kopelman said on his blog that he believes in what Fred Wilson, a principal of New York-based Union Square Ventures, calls “The Darwinian Evolution of Startup Hubs.” The theory is pretty simple — entrepreneurs create a few successful companies, each of which produce entrepreneurs that create a few more successful companies, and the process continues until, if everything goes right, the end result is Silicon Valley.

Kopelman sees that process starting to happen in Philadelphia.

For example, prior to forming First Round, Kopelman was involved with three successful companies based in the Philadelphia area. The last, which he was the chairman of, was Turntide Inc., a maker of an antispam router that was bought by Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec Corp.

The co-founder and chief technology officer of Turntide was David Brussin, whose latest venture, Conshohocken-based Monetate Inc., has technology that enables website operators to test and target their marketing efforts. Monetate employs more than 100 in the area and is looking to hire another 25.

“The best way to create a more vibrant startup ecosystem in Philadelphia is to help the current class of startups succeed,” Kopelman wrote on his blog, “so that Monetate’s employees will be our next batch of upcoming entrepreneurs.”

Kopelman thinks that by moving into Philadelphia, First Round can help do that.

“What we’re hoping,” he said, “is that other venture firms follow us from the suburbs towards the city, where right now we’re seeing a lot of great companies take root.”