Meet Erik Moore, Managing Director of Base Ventures

Steven Loeb · June 13, 2015 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/3e38

Base Ventures invests between $100,000 and $750,000 in 15 to 20 companies

There has been a big debate over the last few years over whether the Series A crunch is real or not.

What everyone can agree on, though, is that there are definitely more seed and early stage funds now than ever before, and more people willing to give more and more money to young companies looking to make it big.

But just who are these funds and venture capitalists that run them? What kind of investments do they like making, and how do they see themselves in the VC landscape?

We've  highlighting members of the community to find out.

Erik Moore is Managing Director of Base Ventures.

Moore was among the first to invest in Zappos in 1999, which Amazon purchased for $1.2 billion. For the next twelve-years, he worked as a Merrill Lynch bond trader by day and an angel investor by night. Moore ultimately realized he could do more to change the world and spur innovation by investing in young entrepreneurs full-time.

VatorNews: What do you like to invest in? What are your categories of interest?

Erik Moore: I like to invest in entrepreneurs who are really excited about what they're building and have an obvious passion for their product. I'm less focused on particular verticals, but there are a few in which we tend to find ourselves investing. 

That includes e-commerce, because of my Zappos background. E-commerce is much more mature than when Zappos started 16 years ago however.

We like platform plays. To some degree they are analogous to the "picks and axes" of our day. We believe this vertical allow the company to take advantage of the market from all players. If it is done correctly and beautifully, the potential is great for these types of companies.

 We also invest in mobile. The world is moving toward mobile and the move to optimizing for mobile is where much of the innovation is taking place, including simplifying transactions.

VN: What would you say are some of the top investments you have been a part of? What stood out about those investments in particular?

EM: My top investment was Zappos. I want an early seed investor and I saw a 50x return.

Tony Hsieh and I are longtime friends and when we talked about me possibly investing in Zappos, I told him that I was not sure if I'd ever heard of a more asinine business to start than selling shoes online. This was the end of 1999, early 2000. What stood out was how remarkably astute and special Tony was, and is. It was apparent that he had a knack for building special companies, as he had just sold his first company to Microsoft for almost $300 million. He worked tirelessly and was unusually insightful around business decisions.

VN: What do you look for in company's that you put money in? What are the most important qualities?

EM: The most important quality is the makeup of the founder, the maturity level and knowledge of their specific industry. I want to walk away from a meeting with them feeling as though I learned something new and that I'm smarter abut their industry.

I try to discern if the founder had overcome trying circumstances in their life to date. Starting a company is very hard and I have to be comfortable knowing that the entrepreneur is going to stick it out when things get difficult. 

VN: Tell me a bit about your background. Where did you go to school? What led you to the venture capital world?

EM: I am from Richmond, California, which is a tough inner city area, not from Oakland and Berkeley. I was fortunate enough to have two big brothers who lived next door to me and I looked up to them. I went to all the schools they went to and tried my best to emulate them. 

I attended St. Mary's high school in Berkeley and went away to college in New Hampshire at Dartmouth. I worked for a bit in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and wound up at Wharton to get my MBA and concurrently did a Master's in French at the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. I spent 15 years in investment banking, then I moved back to San Francisco during the dotcom gold rush years and lived next door to Tony Hsieh. We became good friends, I was amongst the first to invest in Zappos and that's how I got my start in the tech ecosystem as an investor. I left banking five years ago to invest in tech full time. 

VN: What is the size of your current fund?

EM: It is a micro venture fund, one that is sub $50 million.

VN: What is the investment range? How much do you put into each startup?

EM: There is a range from $100,000 to $750,000 over the life of a company. There are also outliers on either side.

VN: Is there a typical percent that you want of a round? For instance, do you need to get 20% or 30% of a round?

EM: We have a different approach and look to invest a certain percentage of our fund in a particular startup.

VN: Where is the firm currently in the investing cycle of its current fund?

EM: We are just getting started investing our new fund. We have funded our first six companies from Fund II.

VN: What series do you typically invest in? Are they typically Seed or Post Seed or Series A?

EM: We typically invest in early/seed stage rounds, and will follow on in A rounds when it makes sense for the fund. 

VN: In a typical year how many startups do you invest in?

EM: Between 15 and 20 companies. 

VNIs there anything else you think I should know about you or the firm?

EM: We're excited to be based in the East Bay. We were here early and it's nice to see that people have discovered how great it is to be on this end. We've been fortunate that the majority of our portfolio companies are performing well. That, coupled with 15 years of networking in the Valley, has made the typical pitfalls of running a venture fund less daunting. 

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs

Zappos.com

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

Our goal is to position Zappos as the online service leader. If we can get customers to associate the Zappos.com brand with the absolute best service, then we can expand into other product categories beyond shoes. And, we're doing just that.

Internally, we have a saying: We are a service company that happens to sell ________.

  • shoes
  • and handbags
  • and clothing
  • and eyewear
  • and watches
  • and accessories
  • (and eventually anything and everything)

Base Ventures

Angel group/VC

Joined Vator on

Base Ventrues, founded by Erik Moore, is a seed-stage fund investing in technology companies. Current portfolio includes InDinero, Virool, Dekko, Tracks.by/Hipset, Priceonomics, MightyText, and others. Successful exits include Socialcam (acquired by Autodesk), and Appstores (acquired by InMobi).

34072

Tony Hsieh

Joined Vator on

136519

Erik Moore

Joined Vator on