Left Lane’s first fund was worth $630 million. Today, the team is back with $1.4 billion to deploy in growth capital for consumer and internet technology companies around the world from its offices in New York and London. I spoke with Harley Miller, CEO and managing partner of Left Lane, which closed $1.4 billion on its 33rd birthday.
“I’m the oldest person on the firm’s investment team – by about a year – but I’ve been doing this for 13 years. It’s the only professional discipline I’ve ever known and I’ve worked on refining and perfecting this craft,” says Miller. “It’s sort of a rare vantage point because venture capital was not a traditional asset class or industry that lends itself to a institutionalized analyst program where people are fresh out of school. Usually there was more than one roundabout way to get there in the past. Maybe you were a banker or a consultant and you did a business school. Something close to our hearts is “how do you breed professional investors from scratch and help shape them”.
Left Lane has made 36 investments in internet and consumer technology companies in a dozen countries. The Company targets companies at key growth inflection points and conducts Series A-C stage deals. The Company invests in fintech, edtech, SMB tech, software, food tech, commerce electronics, health and wellness, games and entertainment, and more.
When challenged within the young team – most venture capital funds tend to be run by people with significant operational or financial experience – Miller pushes back enthusiastically.
“We have a high regard for the human condition – not being a member of the flyover board. It’s a privilege to be there, as opposed to a duty where you show up once a term and pontificate just to make your fucking voice heard. It’s the classic archetype of the word vomit,” Miller says, expressing his frustrations. “[I’m frustrated with] the VC that doesn’t jack in diligent, outsources it to their mid-level juniors, then shows up at the board meeting and for the first six months asking basic rudimentary questions. It’s like, ‘Hey, haven’t you done an iota of diligence? As these are basic questions about the business model? Why?'”
Miller encourages founders to be careful about who to choose as investors.
“Especially in the past few years, there have been many new tourists entering the venture capital or growth capital asset class. They’re all “we’re very entrepreneur-friendly, we don’t need to be on the board,” says Miller. “We don’t do that. It’s not a job for us. It’s a way of life. I think if you get there with that intentionality, you will by definition do better than the vast majority. It’s not enough to just show up and care. A a lot of funds have this concept of ex-traders turning into venture capital, and I think that can be very powerful, but again, make no mistake about it, it takes years to perfect your craft as a investor who has been recognized in hundreds of transactions. We must respect the human condition. You need to be able to navigate and have a large area and range of different Founder archetypes and personas that you can work with, whether it’s someone’s background, religion, creed , race, age, moreover, geographical.”
As the investment community became better and better invested in SaaS businesses, Left Lane decided to tackle the spaces being left behind, especially internet-based consumer technology with recurring business models.
“Aamidst a world of generalists mimicking enterprise software, SaaS investors, we saw this white space. We are so lucky to have 60 or 70 CEOs or high-level operators of Internet and consumer technology companies as LPs and advisors,” says Miller, explaining why the lack of operational experience in the investment ranks of the business is not as important. of a problem I was trying to make. “We are really bringing this work on behalf of our existing and future portfolio.”
The company invests in the AC series lineup and likes to lead the rounds it is involved in. The team suggests that the sweet spot for his investments ranges from $5 million at the low end, up to $75 million for checks. top of the line.