YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim has launched an angel investment group with Internet executives Kevin Hartz and Keith Rabois.
The group calls itself Youniversity Ventures and focuses on investing in former and current students at Stanford University and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Both Hartz and Rabois have undergraduate degrees from Stanford, and Karim is currently working on a graduate degree in computer science at Stanford after earning a bachelor’s in computer science from the University of Illinois.
“We don’t have any goals in terms of investments per year,” Hartz says. “We just love working with entrepreneurs. The investments we got involved with, we got very involved with. We’ve been very active. If and when we find another, we’ll go forward. Our model is to be extremely selective.”
So far, the Youniversity co-founders have made at least one disclosed investment together. They backed prediction marketplace BluBet, which allows users to make non-monetary bets on a variety of off-the-wall subjects. The Youniversity trio, along with Flixster CEO Joe Greenstein, collectively invested $225,000 in BluBet.
One venture capitalist familiar with Youniversity says it bills itself as being very “founder friendly.” Indeed, Hartz says that the group shudders at the typical venture fund notion.
We don’t have any goals in terms of investments per year. We just love working with entrepreneurs.
Hartz also says the group does not plan on raising a fund. “This is more of a hobby for us,” he says. “Instead of going out and playing golf, we like to work on startups. We’re just three friendly entrepreneurial angels. We’re first and foremost entrepreneurs and don’t have any plans of raising a fund.”
Due to time constraints, the group looks for companies “with an enormous market opportunity,” Hartz adds. “We’re kind of students ourselves. It’s almost our own keiretsu operation in that I have my own startup and take and give to various entrepreneurs. Given our other personal commitments you’ll see that we’re investing only occasionally.”
Hartz, a co-founder of international money transfer company Xoom Corp. and current CEO of event registration service company Eventbrite, is no stranger to early stage investing. He’s backed social networking company Friendster, RSS search company Feedster and video communications company TokBox, among others.
The Youniversity website states that all three co-founders are limited partners in Sequoia Capital, although it doesn’t specify which Sequoia fund or funds they have backed. Hartz’ personal website at www.kevinhartz.com says that he is also a limited partner in Clarium, Outlook Ventures and The Founders Fund. Hartz was once an associate at Outlook Ventures, according to Thomson Financial (publisher of VCJ).
Karim did not respond to a request for comment. He met YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen when they all worked at PayPal. The trio launched YouTube in 2005. Karim uploaded the first video to the site in April 2005, but then stepped aside to go back to school. When YouTube sold to Google in October, 2006, Karim walked away with shares reportedly worth nearly $65 million.
Rabois is vice president of business development for Slide, a startup that makes Web widgets, such as an application to display photo slideshows on websites. —Alexander Haislip