When you name your investment vehicle #DominateFund (with an actual hashtag!), you're inviting the wrath of the gods, and an ironic end. Sure enough the pet project of Mashable's former editor at large Ben Parr is striking out.
Last year, Forbes described Parr's startstruck ambition:
For Hollywood executives and artists, the DominateFund is supposed to give them access to hot tech startups. They want good investments, but also are interested in technology and how they can use the latest technology in their own businesses
Parr, a guy who wears Cool Sunglasses and once had "World Changer" in his Twitter bio, would be the gateway between productive nerds in need of cash and unproductive Hollywood entities with plenty of it—and in the age of Ashton Kutcher and Will.I.Am, playing startup dilettante is a choice hobby for celebs.
But it never worked out, perhaps owing to Ben Parr's lack of business sense, hubris, and the fact that he was kicked out of Mashable. The (relatively) paltry $5 million Parr sought from fellow monied speculators to fill up the ol' DominateFund never materialized—one Silicon Valley investor says the entire thing is considered a "joke," and that he is sort of an object of pity at this point.
Fortune recently reported that Parr will move DominateFund away from the celebrity angle, after finding that no celebrities wanted a piece—which was its entire point d'être. What's left?
Parr tried to explain what a Hollywood VC fund stripped of Hollywood dreams actually means:
It's not that celebrities and the Hollywood scene proved less interested, but others outside of Hollywood were interested in what we were doing as well. The Hollywood component was only a small reason startups were pitching us for funding.
We still introduce our startups to people in Hollywood (including celebrities who we have close relationships with), but now we also introduce them to journalists or potential advisors as well. Most of our time, however, is spent on the coaching aspect: on how to pitch, how to market, how to build viral products, how to structure a deal with a celebrity, etc.
It seems, though, that if the crew had much to impart about "how to structure a deal with a celebrity," they would've done just that for themselves. This is face-saving (or a rough shot at it), not strategy. Now DominateFund is just another firm in a logjam of firms—but without a gimmick, what's the point?