- Niv Dror/Twitter
- Niv Dror, AngelList’s former head of marketing, has launched a $3 million venture-capital fund called Shrug Capital, stylized as ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Capital.
- The fund has received investments from influential Silicon Valley venture capitalists such as Founders Fund’s Cyan Banister and Andreessen Horowitz’s Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon.
- Dror told Business Insider that the shrug emoticon, which he had tattooed on his left wrist two years ago, was among his favorite keyboard-shortcut responses.
In October 2016, Niv Dror, then an editor for the product editorial site Product Hunt, tattooed the shrug emoticon on his left wrist. Now, less than two years later, Dror has left his position as the head of marketing at AngelList to start a venture-capital fund.
Like Dror’s tattoo, the fund’s name draws inspiration from the shrugging emoticon’s conjectural figure.
Dror’s $3 million fund, called Shrug Capital and stylized as ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Capital, has attracted interest from several influential Silicon Valley venture capitalists, including Cyan Banister of Founders Fund and Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz.
In an interview with Business Insider, Dror said Shrug Capital started with a tweet in November.
“If I ever raise a venture fund I’m calling it: ¯_(ツ)_/¯” he said.
If I ever raise a venture fund I’m calling it: ¯_(ツ)_/¯
— Niv Dror (@Nivo0o0) December 1, 2017
Owen Brainard, the managing director of Brainard Capital, responded: “First step to raising a venture fund is saying ‘if I ever raise a venture fund…'”
First step to raising a venture fund is saying "if I ever raise a venture fund…" pic.twitter.com/t7h3oD3zFH
— Owen Brainard (@owenbrainard) December 1, 2017
Dror said Brainard’s response planted the inkling of possibility in his mind that he could raise a fund.
“I’ve always wanted to be a venture capitalist,” Dror said. “But I never considered that I could raise my own fund.”
Two months after tweeting about the idea, Dror said, he gave Brainard a call to ask whether he’d like to invest in Shrug Capital. Brainard agreed, becoming the fund’s very first investor.
Dror says the plan is to create a portfolio of consumer-based companies that he’s excited to “talk about for more than an hour with a non-tech audience.” He said his experience working with tech products at companies like Product Hunt and Meerkat provided him insight into consumer-focused startups.
And his vision for the fund solidified with a recent deal with the trivia-game-show app HQ Trivia.
“I wanted to invest any amount in HQ,” Dror said. “I knew that if I could get into HQ, it would help me raise the fund and get access to competitive deals.”
As for the firm’s name, Dror said the shrug emoticon had long been his go-to keyboard-shortcut response.
“It’s much easier than taking a position,” he said.
Though his fund is named for a doubtful emoticon, Dror says that it means serious business and that he had received positive feedback from investors on the name.
“Founders love it,” Dror said. “I got an email from a founder a few days ago who said, ‘I can’t wait to have a shrug emoticon on the cap table.'”