Former Hulu exec Noah Heller launches new venture fund to focus on LA tech

Noah Heller, one of the chief architects of Hulu’s virtual reality strategy, has left the video streaming service to set up his own venture firm, 3Rodeo.

Primarily focused on backing Los Angeles-based technology startups, the new fund has already committed capital to three deals, Heller confirmed.

Variety first reported the news of the new fund’s launch.

For Heller, the former vice president of business development for emerging technology and VR at Hulu, the move to venture capital is also a return to his entrepreneurial roots.

Heller joined Hulu when Vhoto, the startup he co-founded in 2012, was acquired by the streaming service in 2015.

A former entrepreneur in residence at Atlas Ventures, Heller has tapped two other former startup executives to help with the new fund — Picasa chief executive Lars Perkins and RYOT Studio co-founder Molly DeWolf Swenson (RYOT was bought by AOL [now Oath], which owns TechCrunch, in 2016).

“It’s called 3Rodeo, as in this isn’t our first or second rodeo,” Heller tells me.

Heller says the ideal investment size will be between $250,000 and $500,000 and that the firm will focus primarily on seed-stage investments.

Already, it’s managed to pick up some solid early-stage portfolio companies. The firm’s first three disclosed investments include Fair, which looks to radically transform the notion of car ownership with a subscription service; Lighter, a food startup where athletes and nutritionists share recipes and menus; and Mira, which is a company developing a low-cost augmented reality headset to compete with the likes of Microsoft’s HoloLens.

“We’ve seen a lot of shit and that experience builds the ability to find an edge and to front run,” says Heller. Mira, for instance, attracted the likes of Sequoia Capital and Greylock — two of the best-known firms in Silicon Valley, but there was still room at the table for the seasoned entrepreneurs from 3Rodeo, Heller said.

“The main requirement is that we have a partner who is familiar with the technology,” said Heller.

Beyond that familiarity is a belief in the vibrancy of Los Angeles’ growing startup ecosystem.

“I’m really long on this market,” Heller said. “Ever since I’ve worked here for Activision I just felt something about it…the size and the geography is intimidating when you first move here, but when you crack it open it’s a good, solid, dense city.”