In this week’s Social Scene, Hollywood falls back in love with venture capital, the Google Ventures team goes Gaga, Don Valentine gets his closeup, Peter Wagner sees a sign of the Apocalypse, Jim Clark and his supermodel wife are expecting their first child, and lots more.
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MAKING THE SCENE
In yet another ominous sign that we may be repeating the past, Hollywood is suddenly finding venture capitalists interesting again. To wit, comedian Adam Sandler is co-producing a CBS sitcom that will be set in a VC office, and the HBO drama “Treme” (from the creator of “The Wire”) will feature a new character who is a venture capitalist. Meanwhile, a documentary about the venture business called “Something Ventured” debuted at the recent South by Southwest festival.
Hollywood gab site Deadline.com reports that Sony and Sandler’s Happy Madison production company are working on a CBS comedy pilot that “is a workplace ensemble revolving around the young-adult employees at a high-powered venture capital firm. It centers on Danny, who is shocked when his crush, competitor and fellow trainee Gracie [played by actress Michelle Trachtenberg of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Gossip Girl”] is promoted out of the mailroom and into a junior associate position at the firm.”
Wonder if Trachtenberg is going to follow around any VCs to research the role. If so, may I suggest the effervescent Christine Heron of Intel Capital?
I learned about the VC sitcom from a tweet from Dave Barrett (@dbodbo), a general partner of Polaris Venture Partners. He tweeted: “Sign of the Apocalypse. Adam Sandler-produced sitcom to be set in VC office. BTW what’s a mail room? http://bit.ly/hGch9A #VC #startup”
I’m scratching my head about the mail room, too, Dave.
I’m also scratching my head over the new VC character on “Treme,” an HBO drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans. A VC in New Orleans?
The Associated Press reports that the VC character, named Nelson Hidalgo, is “a venture capitalist who comes to New Orleans looking to help the city rebuild a year after the killer storm, while helping himself in the process.” Hidalgo will be played by actor Jon Seda, who has appeared in “The Pacific” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.”
From the AP story:
“This character is just the beauty of David Simon,” said Seda, during a recent break in filming. “He [Simon] digs deep and tells the truth — the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Seda said Hidalgo looks to capitalize on an opportunity, as many people did after post-hurricane flooding ravaged New Orleans in 2005, and in the end comes to love the city and all that it has to offer.
“You know, a lot of money came through here after the hurricane and there are a lot of questions left about where that money is now. Those are the types of stories that should be told and that Simon tells so well,” Seda said.
Looking for a realistic portrayal of the VC business? Check out “Something Ventured,” which debuted at SXSW. The documentary was conceived and co-executive produced by Paul Holland, a general partner at Foundation Capital who specializes in cleantech. According to the movie’s website, it is a documentary about the venture capital business, as “told by the visionary risk-takers who dared to make it happen…Tom Perkins, Don Valentine, Arthur Rock, Dick Kramlich and others. The film also includes some of our finest entrepreneurs sharing how they worked with these venture capitalists to grow world-class companies like Intel, Apple, Cisco, Atari, Genentech, Tandem and others.”
LOOK WHO’S TWEETING
–> Wining (not Winning!) … Seth Levine (@sether ), managing director at Foundry Group: “wine + our annual meeting presentation, while not exactly a romantic coupling is at least a productive one …”
–> Dream job … Shervin Pishevar (@shervin), angel investor and founder of social gaming company SGN: “I want to be the Don King of competitive chess boxing. m.wired.com/playbook/2011/…”
–> Bus-ted … Hussein Kanji (@hkanji), London-based tech investor and former associate with Accel Partners: “Awful service and attitude from a London 55 bus that stopped halfway through its route. License plate LX05 BVZ. @mayoroflondon”
–> Sign of Internet bubble … Peter Wagner (@peter_wagner), former partner with Accel Partners: “Another sign the end is near: “@patphelan: Google Ventures Launches $10,000 Startup Referral Program For Employees goo.gl/ohSJh”
–> Going Gaga … Rich Miner (@richminer), partner with Google Ventures: “warming up for Lady Gaga (at Oracle Arena & McAfee Coliseum) #SCVNGR http://scvn.gr/gvBwpH” (Ed. note: Are you a Gaga fan? See video of her visit to Google here. Gaga to Marissa Mayer: “When I was in high school, all of my girlfriends wanted to get jobs here.”)
–> Locked out … Harjeet Taggar (@Harjeet), partner at Y Combinator: “lost my keys last night. woke neighbours at 130am to let me in. did try smashing glass pane on door with rock first though. unsuccessful.”
THE BILLIONAIRES’ CLUB
–> Baby on board … Billionaire Netscape co-founder Jim Clark and his glamorous wife of two years Kristy Hinze are expecting their first child later this year. It’s not a complete surprise; Hinze, a 31-year-old swimsuit supermodel and former “Project Runway” host, has said for years that she was looking forward to starting a family with Clark, who is now 67 and has two adult children. (Hinze is Clark’s fourth wife.) “Kristy is absolutely thrilled with the news – she is just beaming,” her spokeswoman told a Sydney newspaper last week. Congratulations to our favorite May-December couple. Certainly, they have plenty of company.
–> Not winning … Bad news for one counterfeit crusader: Billionaire energy executive and art collector Bill Koch just lost a lawsuit alleging that the auction house Christie’s knowingly and falsely marketed several bottles of Bordeaux as once belonging to Thomas Jefferson. The presiding judge ruled that Koch wasn’t “injured” when he spent $4,200 for a bottle of the wine in 2008. The bottle came from a collection of wines that German dealer Hardy Rodenstock claims were discovered in a cellar in Paris. Both Rodenstock and Christie’s said the evidence was overwhelmingly suggested that the wine had been ordered for Jefferson. (For more on the back story, check out this April 2010 story in Wine Spectator.)
–> The opposite of blockbuster … Meanwhile, billionaire investor and activist shareholder Carl Icahn is calling Blockbuster his worst investment ever — and not only because of the “excessive pay package” of former CEO John Antioco (though mostly). In a letter published in the April issue of the Harvard Business Review, Icahn says Blockbuster “failed because of too much debt and changes in the industry. It had too many stores, Netflix created a better business model, and then Redbox kiosks and the whole digital phenomenon eliminated the need for consumers to go to a separate DVD store.” Icahn then adds: “To this day I don’t know what would have happened if we’d avoided the big blowup over Antioco’s bonus…Things might have turned out differently.”
–> Buffett’s first time … And Warren Buffett is eyeing India. On Monday, after arriving in Bangalore on his first-ever trip to the country, he called it a “logical investment destination,” adding that Berkshire Hathaway is actively looking at large countries like India, which he considers to be more than an “emerging market.” Buffett also said that Indian-born Ajit Jain, who heads several reinsurance businesses for Berkshire, could well become his successor, saying that Berkshire’s board would support Jain should he seek the post.
(Billionaires’ Club is written by Connie Loizos. Got a tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO …
–> Vered Sharon, founder of advisory firm Calyx Ventures. (Today, March 25.)
–> Bob Stearns, managing director and co-founder of Sternhill Partners. (Monday, March 28.)