Who is Mike Rothenberg?

There is no shortage of venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, its northern annex. Still, Rothenberg attracted attention because of his relative youth, starting the firm at age 28.

“People called us the millennial venture firm,” said Rothenberg, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and launched his fund while getting an MBA from Harvard. “I picked venture capital to be my startup.”

Mike presenting at summit

His approach involved smaller investments, usually between $100,000 and $250,000. Unlike other VCs, he didn’t try to micromanage startups by securing board seats. The firm focused on networking events where startups and investors could meet.

“I think our portfolio unequivocally works,” Rothenberg said, pointing to investments in notable companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Matterport, a maker of 3D cameras used by real estate agents.

Other investments include Patreon, which lets people pay creators for their work; Boosted, an electric skateboard maker; Andela, which seeks to cultivate African programming talent; and Planet Labs, a satellite photography company.

The pinnacle of Rothenberg’s networking-centric style is Founder Field Day, where startup founders and investors schmooze at AT&T Park, the homefield of baseball’s San Francisco Giants. It’s been held every year from 2014 to 2017.

Rothenberg was also enthusiastic about the prospects for virtual reality, putting together an effort called River to produce VR content and invest in very young VR startups.

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