Daniel Leff of Waverley Capital on media tech, how he's crafted a successful VC career by being contrarian, and the role of strategic LPs as differentiators
In venture, many people speak about being contrarian, but very few investors truly are comfortable with consistently thinking outside of mainstream consensus. One exception is Daniel Leff, co-founder of Waverley Capital. Waverley was founded in 2019 with Edgar Bronfmann, Jr. and is focused on investing in media start-ups.
Prior to Waverley, Daniel founded Luminari Capital, a top-performing media fund. During his career Daniel invested in companies such as Roku, FuboTV The Athletic, Headspace, and Matterport. As he’s built his firms, he’s taken a very unique approach in portfolio construction and LP composition, both of which have been very successful.
Prior to founding Luminari, Daniel was a Partner with Globespan Capital Partners. Earlier in his career, Daniel worked for Sevin Rosen Funds and Redpoint Ventures. He also previously held engineering, marketing and strategic investment positions with Intel Corporation.
Daniel earned a B.S. Chemistry from The University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. Daniel also earned an MBA from The UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, where he was an Anderson Venture Fellow and where he currently serves on the Board of Visitors.
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In this episode we discuss the following topics:
02:03 The opportunity Daniel saw when he started Luminari
05:57 Why media tech is such a hard thing for mainstream investors to understand
09:19 The inherent edge of a strategic LP base
11:51 How Daniel activates his LPs systematically and strategically
15:40 The decision to partner with Edgar Bronfmann, Jr. versus someone that was already deeply working within the startup or venture world.
21:10 Why media startups have trouble accessing capital, and how this can be mitigated.
27:16 His thoughts on reserves.
27:24 How relationships with strategic & high net worth investors has helped their portfolio companies raise rounds
30:33 How Daniel’s venture career helped him develop conviction in his investments
35:51 Advice for emerging managers
36:48 Daniel’s anti-portfolio
39:33 The investors he admires the most
Mentioned In This Episode:
I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Daniel. Follow me @SamirKaji and give me your insights and questions with the hashtag #ventureunlocked. If you’d like to be considered as a guest or have someone you’d like to hear from (GP or LP), drop me a direct message on Twitter.