Launch House, a revamped version of the Silicon Valley hacker house, closed a $12 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).
Other investors in the round included Michael Ovitz, co-founder of Creative Arts Agency, Mike Dudas, investor at 6th Man Ventures and founder of The Block, and Ryan Sean Adams, co-host of crypto podcast Bankless.
In a press release on Tuesday, a16z general partner Andrew Chen cited remote work, the rise of Gen Z and trends in startup fundraising as factors propelling Launch House into “the third space for the new distributed Silicon Valley,” alongside long-standing institutions such as universities and incubator programs.
With the funding, Launch House plans to expand its residency program to additional cities around the globe and grow its metaverse location.
The Launch House story
When Brett Goldstein was laid off from Airbnb during the coronavirus pandemic, he booked a flight to Tulum, Mexico and moved into a rental house with his friends (ironically, in an Airbnb).
The purpose was two-fold: live with friends and launch startups.
The experiment was a nod to old-school Silicon Valley hacker houses – communal living spaces occupied by groups of aspiring entrepreneurs.
“The goal was to recreate Silicon Valley magic,” Goldstein told CoinDesk, who says web2 unicorns such as Airbnb and Snapchat were both launched via hacker houses. “Pretty soon, people were hitting us up to join.”
But instead of a startup, Goldstein and co-founder Michael Houck realized they would build a startup for startups: Launch House.
Launch House is a revamped version of the hacker house. Aspiring entrepreneurs apply to one of several month-long “residency programs” with themes including “Web 3”, “metavase”, or “female founders”.
Upon acceptance, applicants are invited to live in often-swanky digs, located in either New York City or Los Angeles. Launch House also supports virtual cohorts which take place via Gather, an interactive virtual space.
“The definition of Silicon Valley is changing,” Houck told CoinDesk via a görüntü call. “All that kind of ‘that’s what silicon valley is’ has basically died after covid. We think the new Silicon Valley is distributed.”
If the Launch House ethos seems like a familiar theme, it’s because they’re merging the community-driven nature of DAOs like Friends With Benefits with the entrepreneurial focus of accelerators like Y Combinator.
“Critics of DAOs say they’re extremely disorganized and over indexed on Web 3 primitives,” said Houck. “We believe in a decentralized future for Launch House. But instead of Greek city states, we’re trying to build UC Berkeley.”
“Outside of a16z, we wanted to index crypto media,” Houck said of Launch House’s investors. “One big initiative is a media operation that is Web 3 forward, but more rationally optimistic.”
So far, the most successful startup to come out of Launch House is Showtime, a non-fungible token platform that allows users to display their NFT collection – it’s like Instagram, but for NFTs.
In a world that is increasingly moving towards remote work and virtual metaverses, Launch House is also a bet on the benefits of in-person collaboration.