A New York VC Spotlight: Josh Kopelman



Josh Kopelman garnered early success in the startup scene while still a sophomore in college.  In 1992, he co-founded Infonautics Corporation at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  Just a few years later in 1996, the company went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

In 1999, he left Infonautics to found Half.com, which he later sold to eBay for $350 million.  “When I started Half.com, our 3 biggest competitors were Borders, Tower Records and Blockbuster Video.  All 3 are out of business today.  It’s amazing.  They were all billion-dollar chains, worldwide brands and all 3 of them got disrupted by technology,” said Kopelman in a Philly.com interview in March of 2013.

Kopelman worked for eBay for 3 years.  During his time with the company, he helped grow eBay’s Media Marketplace to nearly half a billion dollars in annual gross merchandise sales.

He started the Kopelman Foundation with his wife in 2001, which helps to provide startup grants to social entrepreneurs with a focus on education, healthcare and medicine or Jewish programs.  A notable endeavor of the foundation includes funding a project which digitized the complete Jewish Encyclopedia, now available online.

In 2003, he founded TurnTide, the first anti-spam company to focus on the router rather than the software and sold it to Symantec 6 months later.  He then switched from entrepreneur to venture capitalist in 2004 with the founding of First Round Capital, a firm that focuses on seed-stage funding for tech companies.  The firm works by having members join boards for the first 24 months to act as more of a “baby-nurse” rather than a “baby-sitter,” as he explained in an interview with Pando Daily.  Among its successful investments are StumbleUpon, Warby Parker, Birch Box, ModCloth and Refinery29.

He was ranked #6 out of 100 investors on Forbes’ Midas list, “2012’s Top Tech Investors” and received Ernest and Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award for the Greater Philadelphia region in June of 2000.  Newsweek has also listed him as one of the top 10 angel investors in the United States.  Kopelman holds a Bachelor of Science degree in entrepreneurial management and marketing from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated cum laude.

VC Firm:

Founder and Partner at First Round Capital (Founded in 2004)


Information Technology, Social Media and Social Media Platforms.



Selected Investment:


Half.com sold to eBay for $350 million
TurnTide sold to Symantec for $28 million



Expertise Areas:

IPO, Product Management, Consumer Marketing.

Blogs, Twitters & Websites:

First Round Capital

Memorable Quotes:

On entrepreneurship“I think there are too many people who try to change consumer behavior.  That’s really expensive.  When an entrepreneur tells me he or she wants to educate the market, I run the other way.”

On innovation:  “I don’t like to solve new needs, I like to solve existing needs.”

On why First Round Capital chose to sue Best Buy:  “If big companies believe they can violate agreements with immunity because a startup can’t afford to sue them, it is bad news for every startup in the ecosystem.”

On being a director on multiple boards:  “We front-load our board seats.  Our board tenure is about 18 months.  As a company goes on and raises B and C rounds, we tend to move from being proactive to reactive.”

On the top quality he looks for in an entrepreneur:  “What I really try to measure is their ability to adapt to change.  You have some entrepreneurs who hit ‘save’ on their business plan and they just keep marching along with that business plan even after the market, their customers and their competition tell them they’re wrong.”

For more information on startup funding and investments, visit our funding section.

About the author: Stephanie Santana

After receiving a dual degree in magazine journalism and anthropology, Stephanie moved to Korea to teach English to elementary students for two years. During her time there, she started a website for salsa dancing in Korea, BusanSalsafied.com. She is currently an editorial assistant at AlleyWatch and is happy to back in New York at an exciting time for startups.  She likes to document her experiences here: stephaniesantana.tumblr.com.

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