A Visit from Chelsea Handler, And A Nervous Wait Afterward


As you may have heard, brash comic Chelsea Handler is set to host a new series on Netflix entitled “Chelsea Does…” in which she’ll explore a range of issues, including a universe still foreign to many outside of it: Silicon Valley.

Now, as the series debut approaches on Saturday, January 23rd , at least one venture firm –- Foundation Capital — is waiting on pins and needles. The reason? Foundation somewhat bravely agreed to let Handler and crew into their offices so she could pitch them on a mobile app while the show was being filmed.

On Friday, we talked with general partner Paul Holland and Foundation’s marketing partner, Meg Sloan, about what went down and how they’re feeling about it now.

TC: How did it come to pass that you’re in this new show?

MS: [Foundation entrepreneur-in-residence] RJ Jain was working with [Handler’s] development team on her app. We’re also early investors in Netflix, so I think we were on the radar of the production team.

I used to work at Facebook, where we have posters that say: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I joked [to the team here] that the answer was to say yes to being in a Chelsea Handler documentary.

TC: What was the idea exactly?

MS: That she would pitch us her app. We also talked with the producers, who asked for our help with some locations, and we put together a happy hour for Chelsea in Palo Alto with a cross section of folks we know. I think she was super interested in the social scene here in Silicon Valley, to the degree that there is any.

TC: How long was this entire process?

MS: It all happened back in June. It’s surprising how quickly they pull these things together. It’s not months and months of preparation. It’s weeks and days, though to them, it probably felt like an eternity. [Laughs.]

TC: Did the app interest you?

PH: In the spirit of keeping our relationship with entrepreneurs confidential, she doesn’t want a lot of exposure [regarding the app] until the show airs. But it was definitely in the power alley of what you’d expect a Chelsea Handler app to be, meaning it has a little edge, it’s a little irreverent, and it’s associated with relationships and things of that nature.

TC: Was the pitch straightforward?

PH: She came in with an entourage – not her entourage from [her long-running E! Online show, “Chelsea Lately”], but she’d encountered a young kid along the way, a 10-year-old, Silicon Valley kid who has [his own] app and she was fascinated by him. She also brought her dog, Chunk, who is very cute and incredibly devoted to her. I’ve never seen such a devoted dog. It stared at her the entire time.

TC: You haven’t seen the show yet. Do you have any idea of how you’ll be portrayed?

PH: I’ve seen her [E!] show and I’ve read her books because I think she’s hilarious. We had a discussion around, is she going to come in and abuse us and make us look foolish or, in my case, make fun of the middle-age white guy. But we ran [the pitch meeting] as if she were coming into any partner meeting. We gave her a serious hearing. We spent time outlining what we look for in investments, and where her offering fit in terms of pros and cons, and she was into it. She was very excited about entrepreneurism. She didn’t come in as a diva or Hollywood personality. It was: I’m proud of this thing I’ve done and I think it’ll be useful for people.

TC: Did you fund it?

PH: We can’t say one way or another. We agreed it would be part of the reveal for her when she does her show. I’d say the broad category is a very lucrative one and has yielded a lot of significant prices and outcomes.

TC: Was there anything that was particularly absurd about the experience?

PH: Well, we don’t usually have entrepreneurs bring along a dog and small child.

TC: You’re not nervous then.

MS: I think it anyone who does anything with Chelsea Handler is probably a little nervous. But if we can’t laugh at ourselves a little bit in Silicon Valley, we’re all taking ourselves too seriously.

PH: It’s funny. You go from, I hope it goes well, to I hope they like me enough that [our part] doesn’t get left on the cutting room floor. It’s entirely possible that what we did was too mundane.

(Readers, if you’ve missed the trailer for Handler’s show, which looks to be very funny, you can check out here.)

Photo at top of page: From left to right (everyone pictured is from Foundation, except star Chelsea Handler):  Anamitra Banerji,  Joanne Chen, RJ Jain, Paul Holland, Handler, Meg Sloan, Melissa Costello, Rob Goodman, Chunk the dog.

More TechCrunch

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 days ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’