Whoo-whee. So 500 Startups hasn’t invested in 500 Startups yet, but it’s getting close. At last count, the micro-VC fund had written checks to about 450 companies, and will definitely hit 500 by the end of the second quarter. What happens then, no one knows. Since no one thought that the firm would ever make that many investments, it never really seemed like something they’d have to worry about — except now maybe they do. Founding partner and Sith Lord Dave McClure has joked that maybe the firm will change its name to 5,000 Startups, but that seems a little aggressive to me.
Anyway! This isn’t a story about all the companies that are a part of the 500 Startups portfolio. It’s about the people who are running things and the moving and shaking that is happening behind the scenes at the firm. Someone is leaving, someone new is joining, and someone is being promoted. All circle-of-life-type stuff.
Let’s start with the promotion. George Kellerman, who joined 500 Startups about a year ago as the firm’s man in Japan, is moving on up to partner. That’s a promotion from his role as venture partner, and he’ll join McClure, Christine Tsai, and Christen O’Brien as one of the people at 500 with that title.
While Kellerman has been sourcing deals and making investments in Japan, he’s also been a big help in fundraising apparently. The promotion comes after 500 Startups received backing from Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo, a deal he helped pull together. According to Tsai, Kellerman will be doing more fundraising and back-office stuff at 500 Startups as the firm continues to grow.
There’s also going to be a new face at 500 Startups. Parker Thompson, who most recently served as director of business development at development firm Pivotal Labs, is joining 500 Startups as a new venture partner. Over the years, Pivotal has grown in stature from a 10-person dev shop to have more than 150 developers in total. Oh, it was also acquired by EMC last year and will be a big part of EMC and VMware’s “pivotal initiative.”
But back to Thompson. According to Tsai, initially he’ll be there to help oversee some of the 500 Startup Accelerator at the firm’s home in Mountain View. But as 500 Startups expands, he’ll also be a big part of the firm’s development of an office in San Francisco. While it hasn’t found a space or signed a lease yet, Tsai told me that 500 wants to launch an Accelerator class in the city to complement the one that it’s run for the past few years down in Silicon Valley.
That’s the good news. And here’s the departure news, which is a bit, um, bittersweet. Paul Singh, 500 Startups partner and “master of the hustle,” is departing the firm to go work on his own thing. His own thing being Dashboard.io, a collaboration and communication tool that he built for use internally while at 500. Tsai says that the dashboard tool is being looked at by other accelerator programs and funds as a possible solution for communication between startups.
Altogether, there are now 22 people at 500 Startups and the litte firm is pretty well situated for world domination, with folks in Silicon Valley, NYC, China, India and Latin America. The personnel moves come after 500 recently opened a coworking space in New York City for portfolio companies based there, as well as the recent addition of Beijing-based venture partner Rui Ma.