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GRP raises $200M fund, gets new office and changes name

GRP is now Upfront Ventures; name represents commitment to transparency missing from VC industry

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
June 27, 2013
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3052

Big news Friday from GRP Partners, one of the largest funds in Los Angeles. Not only did the firm raise a big new  fund, but it is opening a new office too! Oh and there was something else... oh yeah, the firm is no longer called GRP Capitol, and has now changed its name to Upfront Ventures.

So, yeah, like I said, a lot of news at once.

New Funding

The firm raised a $200 million fund, its fourth overall, it was announced in a blog post written by partner Mark Shuster on Friday.

The new fund is consistant with previous funds that were raised; in fact, all but one of the firm's funds was the exact same amount. GRP previously raised $200 million in 1996, $400 million in 2000 and $200 million in 2009. In case you were not counting, it has now raised $1 billion in funding.

Founded in 1996, GRP Partners has invested in companies such as DataSift, where it participated in a $15 million Series B and Moonfrye, where it led a $2.5 million round. The firm also participated in a $2 million round in Adly and led a  $3 million Series A round for ChowNow.

There is no indication as to who invested in the new round.

New headquarters

The company also announced that it will be moving its headquarters to Santa Monica.

"We love all of LA and fund all regions. In fact, we fund nationally and occasionally internationally. But in Los Angeles, Santa Monica is akin to SoMa in San Francisco, Cambridge in the Boston area or Flatiron / Union Square in NYC," said Shuster.

"Santa Monica is  the place where the highest concentration of early-stage startups are created if you consider also the contiguous geography of Venice Beach. We chose a location that fit our style."

The new office is 12,000 square feet, and consists of both an indoor and outdoor space. The building was once a Verizon switching center, and is in the process of being classified as an historic building in Santa Monica.

"We will retain the cement interior and exposed feeling and complement it with wood. We want a place that feels approachable – not stuffy. And we chose to locate ourselves 3 blocks East of The Third Street Promenade where much new development is taking place."

New name

Along with the new fund, and the new office, comes the biggest change of all: a new name.

So why change the name of the firm after 17 years? Because it wanted to represent the change going on in the industry.

The vc industry has become "too closed-door and secretive." Shuster said, allowing investors to know "all the tricks of the trade" while those newer to the game are left out.

Upfront will be all about transparency and changing the game. For example, he noted, in the company’s last fund, the two biggest deals to come out of it were made by women. And the firm has been making big deals all around the country, in places like Chicago, Las Vegas, and Baltimore. 

"We also learned firsthand as entrepreneurs that straight answers can be hard to come by with VCs, which is why we value frankness."

And that is where the name "Upfront" comes from.

"The venture capital industry has changed a lot in the past 20 years … and we have too. Wouldn’t we be a bit hypocritical if we talked with entrepreneurs about innovation and change but we weren’t willing to take it on ourselves?" wrote Shuster.

"We wanted our name to reflect both the changes we’ve made and how we plan to operate for the next 20 years."

(Image source: http://upfront.com)


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