Howard Lindzon, a hedge fund trader who created the high-profile short video show Wallstrip and then sold it to CBS, today launched a new fund to invest in social applications. The eight-person group is called Social Leverage, LLC and will presumably compete with a handful of other small funds to get a piece of the hottest new apps before they seek more substantial funding.
The new fund's portfolio currently includes the most popular Twitter client, Tweetdeck (also funded by a constellation of other small stars), Lindzon's Twitter for stock tips service StockTwits and WallHogs, a bizarre company that prints over-sized vinyl wall hangings from user-uploaded images. Who will Social Leverage back next? We can only wonder, but it's sure to be interesting.
We find the fund's launch of interest because we find Lindzon of interest and we like the idea of someone giving small sums of money and social media help to cutting-edge social media experiments.
The fund describes its strategy in part via its past success. "We've taken traditional business models (ranging from finance to video to entertainment, media, and more) and transformed them using social networking and internet media." Lindzon in particular deserves a sympathetic ear since he did figure out how to create a web video content company from scratch and turn it into acquisition bait for a huge old media company. The show was reportedly sold for $5 million in May of 2007 but was shuttered by CBS last month. Toward the show's final days it tended to be heavier on the cleavage than on the financial news or analysis anyway. A slogan on the bottom of Lindzon's personal blog reads "Due Diligence is for Underperformers."
Social Leverage says it will provide the companies it funds with everything from user acquisition to revenue stream generation to help with financial filings. Presuming all parties can get along well enough, we expect that the fund will act as an all-around ally to its portfolio companies in ways that more traditional funds do not.
Both StockTwits and Tweetdeck seem to us to be as exciting an investment in a Twitter app as there is likely to be, though we're not sure what to think about the wall hanging company.
We look forward to seeing Social Leverage in action and eagerly await announcements about which crazy ideas the fund gives a financial lifeline to in the future.