An Angel in New York: Rick Webb



As the co-founder of an interactive marketing firm, an angel investor in over 50 startups and the marketing and revenue consultant for Tumblr, Rick Webb is always looking for the next breakthrough technology in new media.

Originally headquartered in Boston, Webb co-founded the Barbarian Group LLC, an award winning digital media consultancy, in 2001.  For the first 10 years he served as the COO, until selling a majority stake of the company to Cheil Worldwide.  He then left to pursue angel investing in new media and advertising.

As a private angel investor, Webb has helped launch over 50 new technology startups.  Companies include Foursquare, Fashism, Docracy, Lover.ly, Sprint.ly, Mashape and Percolate.  He typically invests in 10 startups a year, with investments ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.  He is also a venture partner at Quotidian Ventures, a seed to early-stage investment fund.

Aside from investing in startups, Webb is a mentor and advisor in the entrepreneurial community.  Companies that he has advised include Lua Technologies, Wantering, DoStuff Media and Location Star.  He serves as a mentor for TechStars NY, a startup accelerator backed by over 75 venture firms and angel investors.  Nestio and Timehop are two of his TechStars graduates.  He serves as a board member for the VCU Brandcenter, a renowned advertising graduate school.

Webb is the founder and CEO of Secret Clubhouse, a new technology coworking space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and owns the record label, The Archenemy Record Company.
Two years ago, Webb joined Tumblr as a revenue and marketing consultant. Webb worked with the social media platform’s native advertisements, which encourage businesses to create less intrusive, paid web advertising.

Webb was named as one of Creativity Magazine’s 50 most creative people in marketing in 2008.  He is the former writer of a tech column for the NY Observer and Betabeat and is an avid blogger on technology, advertising, economics, politics and the government.

Webb holds a BA in International Economics from Boston University.

Investment Funds:

Venture Partner at Quotidian Ventures (Founded in 2010)
Mentor for TechStars NY (Founded in 2006)


Advertising, Analytics, Art, Consumer Internet, Fashion, Location-Based Services, Mobile, Social Media.

Selected Investments:


Tumblr sold to Yahoo for $1.1 billion
SimpleGeo sold to Urban Airship for an estimated $3 million


VYou shut down in April of 2013


VCU Brandcenter

Expertise Areas:
Interactive Marketing, Social Media, Advertising Platforms, Native Advertising, Digital Strategy and New Media.

Blogs, Twitter & Websites:


Memorable Quotes:

On Tumblr’s native ads:  “All we do is ask for your birthday.  We don’t sell ads against you getting a divorce or getting engaged.  We’re trying to do it without selling the soul.”

On encouraging Tumblr advertisers to go native:  “Can we ever just buy America?  Can we ever just buy Brazil?  That is probably a thing they would like to do.”

On recommending how someone would go about getting a job at his company:  “By ignoring the existence of our company and plowing all of their energies into doing the most compelling, creative, positive things they can do, whether it’s for a client, a charity, for art or themselves.  Make something amazing.  And be nice.”

On job hunting in a slow economy:  “With this company being born in late 2001, I am a firm believer in the theory that the downturn is an opportunity to build something new.  It forces you to be resourceful, flexible and rapidly profitable.  If I were looking for a job, I’d start my own company right now, just like in ‘01.”

About the author: Meredith Lee

Meredith is currently studying Journalism and English at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she focuses on blending new and traditional medias to enhance communication for a future career in digital media. She enjoys everything related to new media, investigative journalism, international communications, cooking, traveling and music festivals.

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