With money to invest, Common Catalyst promotes four, including Niko Bonatsos

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 8:00 PM

The announcements come just weeks after the venture firm, which has offices in Cambridge, Ma.; New York;  and Palo Alto, closed on $845 million in new capital commitments from its investors.

With money to invest, Common Catalyst promotes four, including Niko Bonatsos

Common Catalyst Partners has promoted four people on its team. The announcements come just weeks after the venture firm, which has offices in Cambridge, Ma.; New York;  and Palo Alto, closed on $845 million in new capital commitments from its investors.

Deepak Jeevankumar, who joined the firm nearly six years ago, was made a partner in the firm’s newest funds. Spencer Lazar, who joined the firm three years ago, was made a partner. And Gabe Ling, who's been both a principal and a venture partner at Common Catalyst in recent years, is presently a partner.

Common Catalyst has also promoted principal-turned-venture partner Niko Bonatsos to managing director, thanks largely to the wide array of interesting deals he's brought to the table in his five years with the firm, including the online genuine estate investment marketplace RealtyShares; the classroom platform ClassDojo; Paribus, a startup that gets shoppers refunds when a product they’ve purchased drops in price; and, most notably, the favorite communications company Snapchat. (Bonatsos is also an angel investor in the messaging app Yik Yak and the gift care marketplace Raise. com.)

While talking with Bonatsos yesterday about his promotion, we asked him where he’s shopping now. Much to our surprise, he said he’s not making a whole lot of bets at the moment.

TC: You’ve identified some interesting startups in your career. What’s your most recent deal?

NB: Paribus, in September, with [Common Catalyst managing director] Joel Cutler, but Paribus has moved New York and so Joel [based in Boston] will lead that investment moving forward. The other company hasn’t announced yet and doesn’t wish to announce.

TC: So two companies in seven months. That’s maybe the average for a VC but it doesn’t seem like much.

NB: We’ve been very active. I see ten to fifteen companies each week. I haven’t been inspired, though.

We’re living in an fascinating time, but I don’t think we’ve figured out what’s coming next. In two thousand-eighth and two thousand nine, there was a confluence of accelerants, from Github to bright phones to app stores to Facebook for distribution. What’s the equivalent today? What the next computer platform, the following distribution engine?

TC: You don’t think Slack will be the next huge platform, as many people seem to wish it to be?

NB: It’s a fascinating company and a lot of people are using it. I definitely look opportunities for those who wish to do productivity or business-related apps. But in the grand scheme, 800.000 [daily active users] is beautiful small. [If I were developing] consumer stuff, I’d be focused on Facebook, Snapchat or Kik. I wouldn’t be doing it on top of Slack.

If they can prove they can create the leap and have regular consumers utilize it, though, it could be interesting.

TC: What about Snapchat? Some people think Snapchat has the edge right now; some think it'll be gone in five years.

NB: Snapchat is TV for the iPhone generation. People utilize it to entertain themselves and communicate with their besties.

Presently with Snapchat and why you hear more about it's that thirtysomething-year-olds are joining. When I joined in 2012, no one in my age grouping was portion of it, except for techies who joined but didn’t really utilize it. [That slightly older demographic] has jumped on it now, and they use it differently than people in their twenty and teens, and it's to see and perceive much more mainstream and have a lot more utility. And most new product features that are coming up following will [probably reflect that].

I don’t think it’s going to go away.

TC: Which platforms will lose their relevance, in your view?

NB: I think Twitter and Instagram are [challenged compared with] Snapchat. If Snapchat gets one hundred photos from you every three days, as the most genuine time and accurate digital representation of the offline world, and [meanwhile] Instagram is cemented as the space where you've to submit the best photo, [it naturally gets less content]. Our lives are beautiful boring. I post one photo to Instagram every few days and more during Christmas and my birthday.

Even if it’s the best content. It’s not enough. Instagram will perceive love a museum. It’s a numbers game.

TC: So no hints at what’s next.

NB: It’s an fascinating time. It doesn’t matter if you’re a enormous company or a youthful developer, you don’t know who's the edge. I can’t wait to look what the following platform will be that'll convince people to start experimenting with new stuff.

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