Post Malone manager brings his hit machine to venture capital
Austin Rosen has spent the past decade investing in chart-topping musicians. Now he’s turning his attention to startups.
Rosen, 34, is the founder and CEO of Electric Feel Entertainment, one of the music industry’s biggest hit factories. Electric Feel’s stable of songwriters have produced 19 number ones over the past five years, working on tracks for Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Lil Nas X and SZA. The company also co-manages mega-star Post Malone and other artists. At least one song by Electric Feel writers, producers and artists has landed in the top 10 of Billboard Hot 100 for 89 consecutive weeks, and in 2021, Variety named Rosen its Music Director of the Year.
It’s been a rapid rise since Rosen founded Electric Feel in 2013, a rise fueled by a keen eye for talent and a knack for fostering collaboration. “I created a whole roster of producers and writers early on in their careers and helped them find the right people to do massive songs,” Rosen said.
With Electric Feel Ventures — a new early-stage investment firm born amid the pandemic that has already closed 50 deals and is currently investing out of a $30 million seed fund — he’s seeing if a similar strategy will work in capital- risk.
“The process of creating music and creating hit songs consistently is just about connecting the dots and bringing the right talent together,” he says. “I feel like it’s kind of the same when you’re dealing with venture capital.”
Rosen is no stranger to investing: he’s the son of Andrew Rosen, a longtime fashion executive known for founding and running the Theory brand and serving as an impresario for designers and apparel companies. in the making, helping fund the rise of brands such as Alice + Olivia and Rag & Bone. The trade publication Women’s Wear Daily once described him as “a sort of Medici of fashion”.
With capital from his early success in music and guidance from his father, young Rosen began investing in clothing and entertainment businesses a few years ago. He was an early backer of 300 Entertainment, the music label home to Megan Thee Stallion and Young Thug, which was sold to Warner Music Group late last year for $400 million. It was also last year that he decided to formalize his investment activities under the umbrella of Electric Feel Ventures, in part, he says, to meet demand from artists who wanted to access deal flow. of Rosen.
“I was starting to do these transactions, and all my clients and all these other people wanted to be in on it,” he says. “I wanted to create a structure around him.”
Some of Rosen’s celebrity clients leverage their star power to bring more than just capital to the table at EFV’s portfolio companies. 24kGoldn, the 21-year-old rapper best known for the chart-topping song “Mood,” has invested alongside EFV in a skincare startup called Starface. He also collaborated with Starface to serve as the public face of a major marketing campaign. Tom Brady joined EFV to support a low carb bread startup called Hero Bread. Brady is also a spokesperson for Subway; last year, he starred in a commercial announcing that Subway would begin selling Hero Bread products in select stores.
EFV also takes a collaborative approach when it comes to finding investments. “A lot of top funds send us offers,” Rosen says, citing Andreesen Horowitz, Maveron and Cavu Ventures as examples. Rosen’s place at the crossroads of the cool music industry makes him an attractive partner for investors always on the lookout for the next big thing. “They see us as a strategic entertainment partner and value add.”
By making music, Rosen tries to bring together people with complementary skills who might be able to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. It’s the same in building a business, just with founders, influencers, and investors instead of writers, producers, and performers.
“You find people early, invest in their talents, their skills, and just connect them with other great people and help them solve problems,” Rosen says.
EFV frequently invests in the entertainment and consumer sectors, with other portfolio companies including Superplastic, a startup trying to turn its cartoon creations into influencers, and Actual Veggies, a maker of plant-based burgers. Other Superplastic backers include Founders Fund, Index Ventures, Justin Timberlake and music executive Scooter Braun, serving as an example of the type of investor profile EFV is trying to find.
The company is raising its second institutional fund from a network of entertainment executives, clients, family offices and other LPs – all of whom are betting that for Rosen to find future unicorns and identify a worm Musical earbuds might not be so different.