Eric Hippeau, Managing Director at Lerer Ventures in New York City, has successfully transitioned from publishing to investing. He worked at International Data Group as publisher of InfoWorld Magazine until 1989, when he joined Ziff-Davis and became publisher of PC Magazine.
While Hippeau took over the company in 1994 after the Ziff family decided to sell, he once told The New York Times that he assumed it would always be a family business. He continued running Ziff, even after it was acquired by SoftBank Capital in 1995, until it was sold in 2000.
A native Frenchman, Hippeau established and globally expanded the international private equity funds at SoftBank Capital, where his language skills (French, Portuguese, English and some Spanish) came in handy.
Hippeau left SoftBank in 2006 after becoming one of the first businessmen to invest in The Huffington Post, where he became a board member and then CEO. The position came when the Post’s CEO of 2 years stepped down and the company decided, “It needed someone with broader media experience and an advertising and technology background to take the next steps,” according to The New York Times.
After The Huffington Post was sold to AOL in 2011, Hippeau joined the Post’s co-founder Ken Lerer in his startup investment firm. He typically invests in 30 startups at $200,000 a year. Beginning as the managing director, Hippeau now serves on the boards of several public and private companies, including Starwood Hotels, The Huffington Post, Thumbplay and Buddy Media.
Managing Director at Lerer Ventures (Founded in 2010)
Advertising, Analytics, Consumer Internet, Digital Media, Education, Mobile, News, Social Commerce, Social Games, Social Media.
GeoCities sold to Yahoo for $3.5 billion
Buddy Media sold to Salesforce for $689 million
Danger sold to Microsoft for $500 million
The Huffington Post sold to AOL for $315 million
Equity Funds, Publishing, Digital Platforms, Entrepreneurship, Advertising.
Blogs, Twitter & Websites:
On the growth of The Huffington Post: “We are getting into a situation in the U.S. where it is so much easier to access all kinds of information, and so much more portably. Everyone has talked about convergence for a long time and it is finally here and we are poised to take great advantage of that.”
On starting at Lerer Ventures: “I am really glad to be getting back into investing, since the New York area is especially vibrant at the moment. And, we are really determined to look at changing the way funds are organized.”
On the importance of life experience: “My career has taught me that you have to go through life with your eyes wide open and be curious. If you do this, you’ll find incredible opportunities.”
On having realistic expectations for your business: “Look, what you’re trying to do is build a scalable, reliable business, and if you can do that, which is tough, then when the time is right, when it’s time for the company to go public or be sold, then the right thing is going to get done. Then people understand the value that’s being built, and the fair value will be made at the time. What that value is, you can’t tell today.”
On the Lerer Ventures philosophy: “The center of gravity is mobile and social.”
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