A member of the founding team of Product Hunt and a LinkedIn veteran are teaming up to invest in early-stage startups. Sources tell us that Erik Torenberg, who was employee No. 1 at Product Hunt, and Ben Casnocha, who served as chief of staff and co-author to LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, are raising $50 million for a new investment vehicle.
Over the past several years, Torenberg has established himself as one of the best-connected entrepreneurs and networkers in Silicon Valley. He first hit the scene with his startup Rapt.fm, which he launched as a platform to enable live rap battles.
Torenberg then spent some time as an associate for Nas’ QueensBridge Venture Partners before joining Product Hunt in early 2014. He left that gig last summer and has spent his time since advising and investing in startups, as well as hosting a series of dinners and meetups through a networking group he founded called On Deck.
Meanwhile, Casnocha spent several years as Reid Hoffman’s chief of staff and co-authored the HR management and career advice books The Alliance and The Start-up of You with the LinkedIn founder. Since leaving that role, he has run a management consulting agency called Allied Talent focused on bringing the framework of The Alliance to more organizations.
Prior to his time at LinkedIn, Casnocha spent some time at investment firm and incubator Wasabi Ventures, and was also founder of Comcate, a startup selling software to make municipalities and government agencies more efficient.
Sources tell us that the pair are actively fundraising and targeting a final close of $50 million. That said, the investment vehicle they raise might not have the usual structure of a traditional two- or three-person seed fund. Instead, the two are looking to build a broader network of “scouts” for deal flow and diligence, according to a source familiar with their plans.
We’re likely to learn more once their fundraising is closed and the two are ready to deploy capital. In the meantime, Torenberg declined to comment for this article.