Silicon Valley's newest investor is a guy who raised $3 million to start ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Capital - named after the shrugging emoji tattooed on his wrist

Business Insider | Apr 16, 2018, 11.46PM IST

Niv Dror

Niv Dror/Twitter

  • AngelList's former head of marketing Niv Dror has launched his own $3 million venture capital fund called Shrug Capital, stylized as  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Capital.
  • The fund has received investment from influential Silicon Valley VCs like Founders Fund's Cyan Banister and Andreessen-Horowitz partners Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon.
  • Dror told Business Insider that the shrug emoticon, which he had tattooed on his left wrist two years ago, is among his favorite keyboard shortcut responses.

In October 2016, Niv Dror - then an editor for product editorial site Product Hunt - tattooed the shrug emoticon onto his left wrist. Less than two years later, Dror has left his position as head of marketing at AngelList to start his own 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 - also stylized as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Capital - has attracted interest from several influential Silicon Valley VCs, including Cyan Banister of Founders Fund and Andreessen-Horowitz partners Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon.

In an interview with Business Insider, Dror said that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Capital all started from a tweet he posted last November. "If I ever raise a venture fund I'm calling it:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯," Dror wrote at the time.

Managing director of Brainard Capital, Owen Brainard, tweeted back: "First step to raising a venture fund is saying 'If I ever raise a venture fund...'" 

Dror said that Brainard's response planted the first inkling of possibility in his mind that he could raise his own fund. "I've always wanted to be a venture capitalist," said Dror. "But I never considered that I could raise my own fund." 

Two months after first tweeting about the idea, Dror said he gave Brainard a call to ask if he'd like to invest in Shrug Capital. Brainard agreed, becoming the fund's very first investor.

Dror said 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." Dror said that his experience working with tech products at companies like Product Hunt and Meerkat provides him with insight into consumer-focused startups. 

Dror's vision for the fund solidified over a recent deal with gameshow trivia app HQ Trivia. "I wanted to invest any amount in HQ," said Dror. "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 inspiration behind the firm's name, Dror said that the shrug emoticon has long been his go-to keyboard shortcut response. "I use the shrug emoticon very often," said Dror. "It's much easier than taking a position."

Despite being named after a doubtful emoticon, Dror said that his fund means serious business, and that the name has received positive feedback from investors.

"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.'"

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