‘World’s youngest venture capitalist’ raises $196 million

A 24-year-old British podcaster who abandoned his law degree to devote himself to interviewing tech investors has raised US$140 million ($196m) for his own venture capital fund.

Harry Stebbings, who started recording The Twenty Minute VC in 2015 at the age of 18, said on Tuesday that he had secured backing for two new funds to invest up to US$5m in early-stage and expanding start-ups.

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His new backers include early Spotify investor Shakil Khan, Lord Rothschild’s investment trust RIT Capital Partners, the endowment fund of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Alex Will, the British co-founder of mental health app Calm.

Stebbings, from Fulham, had previously raised US$8.3m last April, investing in companies such as virtual events service Hopin and the audio chatroom app Clubhouse.

He told the Financial Times that his latest raise was part of a “collision” between venture capital and media, with prolific investors becoming popular hosts and writers while YouTubers and social media influencers seek to wield financial power.

Stebbings said: “The podcast is my shop sign. It’s easier to create content than ever before, but it’s more difficult to create a brand than ever before … distribution, at the end of the day, is everything.”

Josh Constine, a former tech reporter who is now an investor, said: “Creators becoming investors just had its watershed moment … every economy is an attention economy.”

On Monday, the prolific venture firm Andreessen Horowitz launched its own journalistic venture called Future, billed as written “by and for the people building the future”. Among its first posts was a laudatory essay headlined “Technology Saves The World”.

A stockbroker’s son, Mr Stebbings dropped out of a law degree at King’s College London to focus on his podcast, and soon began monetising it to pay for his mother’s multiple sclerosis medication.

With 776 episodes to date, it features 20-minute interviews with tech executives, founders and venture capitalists from companies including Twitter, DoorDash, Robinhood, Etsy, LinkedIn and others.

The format allowed Mr Stebbings to build a huge network of contacts, which he began using to move into investment in 2016.

He told Wired: “To be honest, the podcast was a plan for me to get into venture capitalism over a long period.”

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