May 23, 2022

When I first met Garrett Camp in March 2007 during a reporting assignment, it was in San Francisco at the offices of StumbleUpon, a web discovery tool that has registered over 2 million users and brought attention to the startup’s 20-year camp. . Founder of the Year StumbleUpon, funded for $1.5 million by legendary angel Ram Shriram, will be bought by eBay in a few months for $75 million.

Then Camp’s career really took off.

Within two years, Camp bought StumbleUpon with the help of a syndicate of investors (they later merged the organization into a new search app called Mix). Around the same time, in 2009, Camp came up with the idea of ​​the on-demand car service that would become famous Uber, which replaced Camp, which still owned 4% when it went public in 2019, into a diversified service. Billionaire c.

Most of the time, the Calgary Camp resident, who now mostly lives in Los Angeles, is developing new business ideas. There’s nothing he can do about it, he suggests in a Zoom chat. While he said he recently realized he has “about 3,500 notes” related to starting a business in his iCloud account, he adds that “10% of them are ideas for new things, not all of them.” [that could be big companies] – but a solid 10″ that might.

Luckily for him, he has a venture studio that can bring these ideas to life, and it seems to be doing very well.

Founded in 2013, Expa has already partnered with founders to launch companies such as Challenger Banking Service Current (valued at $2.2 billion last year); a back office platform for the self-employed 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 last year).

Several Expa-related startups were also acquired, including CMD (Elastic), Kit (RO), and Reserve (for Resy, which was acquired by Amex itself).

Camp Expa has now doubled in size. To begin with, he initially started with $50 million to invest and then raised another $100 million in 2016, today he is approaching a new fund of $200 million, with more than half of that amount in the camp.

The rest comes from multi-family offices like Econic and Epic, individual family offices and investor friends. Sriram, who wrote the first Google check and remains on the Alphabet board of directors, is one of them.

Expa, which already had offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, also opened a London office led by David Clark, who spent two years in charge of external relations at Uber and most recently at Expa-backed Beacon. London. Two digital supply chains and a freight platform. established Another Former head of Uber. (Last fall, Beacon raised $50 million in Series B funding. Another recent Expa deal in Europe is Wingcopter, an autonomous drone delivery company.)

In total, in addition to Camp, Expa is now managed by five partners. The sole managing partner is Roberto Sanabria, who oversees the company’s day-to-day operations and, after several years at Google, previously worked at the StumbleUpon camp.

The latest partner was Yuri Namikawa, who joined the company as a director of Norwest Venture Partners.

It could grow from here, given the camp’s personal resources, not to mention their track record. In fact, while Expa doesn’t take money from pension funds or treat universities as limited partners, that could change later, Camp says.

It’s easy to imagine that if Expa goes this route, there will be a lot of demand. While the company invests in its own ideas (think, as well as Aero, a luxury aircraft company that Camp sees as a big opportunity), it also teams up with the founders with ideas they like and want. together. ,

One example is Mos, a Series B startup that acts as a student financial aid advisor. Moss founder Amira Yahyawi “has an idea,” Camp says, but nothing more. “We met for dinner through friends and we hit it off and I knew she would succeed. But she started from day one, so we helped her with branding, products, and fundraising tips. We didn’t start the company ourselves, but we were partners.

Similarly, he says, Expa helped the Convoy (now worth billions of dollars) digital trucking network in its early stages, even buying a business for Convoy founder Dan Lewis and providing him with a loan, and helping provide a domain name. (Camp says that when Lewis got the first round of Convoy, he gave it back to Camp. He explains that the expas used to do “branding, product design, launch strategy, recruiting, product-to-market fit, their first rounds, etc.”) . to extend – just basically helps to navigate those. first two years.”)

Of course, as impressive as Expa sounds, as more funds are created and hits like Tiger get closer and closer to the founding stage, there is still a lot of competition.

When asked about it, Camp suggested that there was nothing more valuable than the investors who started the companies. They argue that Expa’s particular strength lies in the fact that its partners recently founded and, in some cases, still run the business.

Partner Vitor Lourenco helped set up the first Envoy Workplace platform; Partner Milan Tesovic founded CMD, a security startup that Elastic would later take over. Camp himself is the CEO of several stealth companies.

Plus, there are very few companies whose founders can claim to have helped create a transformational company like Uber — a company so popular in popular culture that entire books have been written about it — to say the least. The series was dedicated to his famous theatrical rise, not to mention the new Showtime anthology.

Asked if Camp was still in touch with Travis Kalanick, who co-founded Uber and served as a senior CEO until he stepped down in 2017, Camp sent a memo to employees who called him. back”, “Gone. Meanwhile, he noted that Kalanick is doing “good business” at his new company, CloudKitchens. (When asked if he was an investor in an organization currently worth $15 billion, Camp said no.)

Whether it’s reading these books or watching the show, Camp, who was on Uber’s board of directors until 2020 but was never actively involved in its management, says he has been linked to longtime corporate journalists Brad Stone and Adam Leshinsky. in it, but did not read them. He says there are “one or two others” [books] I do not have it [read or participated in]Me (New York Times reporter Mike Isaacs wrote the book) super pump upon which the Showtime series is largely based.)

As for the TV show, he says he saw the former, calling it “so wrong”. time is over. They put so much emphasis on certain things,” including the swanky office that houses Uber’s headquarters. Camp admits that Uber’s actual headquarters in San Francisco, where the Golden State Warriors play, is pretty smart, but notes that the company’s early days were far less glamorous. (Having seen one of these first headquarters, I can confirm that this is true.)

“I thought maybe it would be a little closer to The Social Network where it would be a little more precise,” Camp says.

Camp says he will “probably” see the show again. Maybe when he has more time. (He still hasn’t seen HBO’s Silicon Valley, he says.)

Right now, he seems to be busy building his empire, as usual. Indeed, when I tell Camp that his behavior since we first met sometimes surprises me, he laughs. “I didn’t expect that either.

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