One of the key executives behind Hulu’s virtual reality (VR) push has left the company, and is now starting a Los Angeles-based tech fund: Noah Heller, Hulu’s VP of business development for emerging technology and VR, left Hulu this month. His new gig: 3Rodeo, an early stage venture fund that wants to help local entrepreneurs to not only get the money, but also the advice they need to get their startups off the ground.
Heller is running 3Rodeo as managing partner, and is being joined by RYOT Studio co-founder Molly DeWolf Swenson and former Picasa CEO Lars Perkins, both in the capacity of venture partners. “We’ve seen a lot and we built a lot before,” said Heller about the team’s combined entrepreneurial experience.
Heller joined Hulu as part of the acquisition of Vhoto, a Seattle-based video-sharing startup. Vhoto was using machine learning to identify the best parts of a user-generated video, and then share it with a users’ friends. Heller had co-founded the startup in 2012 and led it until its sale in late 2015. Before that, he was entrepreneur-in-residence at Atlas Ventures.
With 3Rodeo, Heller now wants to invest in cutting-edge startups in a variety of fields including media, computer vision, financial technology and more. The company has made three investments this far, and counts car buying startup Fair, augmented reality glasses maker Mira and food startup Lighter among its portfolio companies.
“I think it’s a cool market, and it’s very hard for a traditional fund to cover,” Heller said about Los Angeles. “We’re not terribly well-known as a tech market.” Thanks to Hollywood, Los Angeles also had plenty of available capital, but that money often wouldn’t come with the right advice necessary to help build sustainable companies, he argued.
News of Heller’s from Hulu departure comes a few weeks after two other higher-profile exec exits. Hulu CTO Tian Lim left the company in September to lead product and user experience efforts as a VP for Google Play. And in October, Hulu announced that its CEO Mike Hopkins was leaving to lead Sony Pictures TV. Hopkins has been succeeded at Hulu by former Fox Networks Group COO Randy Freer.