Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

130 E 59th St., Floor 17
New York, NY


The Markets You Can't See

Will Porteous

As venture capitalists, we have the privilege of partnering with exceptional entrepreneurs solving exceptional problems. Innovations come in all shapes and sizes and it’s our responsibility to be open to opportunities in whatever form they present themselves. RRE Ventures has invested in over 200 companies over the last 20 years across a broad range of sectors. We typically get excited when we see a combination of a brilliant team, a fast growing market, and novel technology that addresses established trends.

But sometimes you only get two out of three of those ingredients to start with. And while we can help recruit a strong team, and a strong team can create truly innovative products, neither of those matter if the market does not develop. This is probably the most common reason that venture investors pass on opportunities - a lack of confidence in the addressable market. But sometimes, you have to look past the market that exists today - and imagine the market that could be… 

At RRE, sometimes we do what others say is crazy. And sometimes a great new company emerges. We would like to tell a few such stories about startups that ultimately became successful RRE companies because they were a little weird. Each of these entrepreneurs looked at things differently, believed things that most others didn’t believe, produced a better product, presented it in a creative way, and opened up new demand in a previously uninteresting market.

In 2010 our team began to hear about the innovative things happening at NYC Resistor, a hacker collective. Bre Pettis and his co-founders were reimagining the essential components for 3D printing in ways that would make it vastly more accessible to consumers. And the community was rooting for them, as evidenced by the vast library of open source 3D designs on Thingiverse. In a period when we were hearing a lot about incremental advertising technology and the latest derivative social networking application, Bre and his team stood out. They were fearless entrepreneurs with a big idea. They wanted to change human behavior, and bring rapid prototyping to the desktop and our homes the same way personal computing and the Internet had revolutionized the economy two decades before. Many people thought the idea was a fad, just an expensive toy no one would buy (especially because you had to put it together yourself). After all, the 3D printing market in 2010 was dominated by machines costing $20,000 or more and tools accessible only to CAD designers. But we saw the extraordinary organic demand for those first MakerBot printers and we realized that this product was enabling the creation of a new, fast growing market in the shadow of this old one. 

MakerBot was acquired for $604 million less than two years after our initial investment.

In 2004 we made an initial investment in a company called Index Development Partners. The company was publicly traded, though it had no discernible business, and was on the verge of being delisted. The principal founder, Jono Steinberg, was well known to RRE though, and he thought deeply about how mutual fund management was starting to change. Jono and his team had assembled substantial intellectual property (IP) to define fundamentally weighted indices that would allow an investor to make very focused fund selections. They planned to launch a family of funds based on this IP. They faced the challenge of getting these novel products through SEC registration and building distribution for them in a market dominated by well established brands. Index Development Partners was an unusual venture deal: an investment in a failed public company building a new financial services business. Certainly the mutual fund market was unremarkable in 2004 from a venture capital standpoint. But the founders of the company that became Wisdom Tree had a clear vision of the future - one in which consumers might forego active fund management and the associated fees in favor of simple, index based products. The Wisdom Tree team worked tenaciously to create the reality in which they would be successful and uncovered massive latent demand. And a new high-growth market emerged such that Wisdom Tree’s 2010 fund launch was the largest in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. 

Ten years later, Wisdom Tree has $35 billion in assets under management.

In 2010 the media industry was well into its current period of turmoil. Legacy media companies had begun to see subscription revenues collapse and online display advertising was already a weak business, getting weaker. There were lots of new media companies producing engaging content, but with very little revenue to show for it. This was not just an uninteresting legacy market, this was an industry collapsing. BuzzFeed started with a simple idea: understand and make things that people like to share. BuzzFeed’s founder, Jonah Peretti, had a remarkable history of identifying and creating content that people were willing to share – and he was building the tools to track and understand that sharing. When RRE invested in BuzzFeed, it wasn’t clear what sort of a business would emerge from this - there was no revenue and only the vague idea that advertisers would pay to have their ads ride along with content as it was shared. But Jonah recognized that a fundamental shift was happening – people were increasingly interested in discovering the news stories and content that their friends were reading and excited about. That’s when BuzzFeed started experimenting with content sponsored by brands that was funny and engaging. With the company’s deep analytic capabilities, brands could now understand how their advertising was being watched and shared. This was a far cry from “impressions.” Thus the sponsored content business was born, a new form of brand advertising and a rapidly growing market where none had existed before.

Today BuzzFeed reaches 150 million monthly visitors around the world.

RRE recently made a similarly audacious investment. Peter Platzer is a former CERN research scientist and hedge fund manager turned space enthusiast. Peter went from drawing concepts on a napkin to having his first satellite in space in under 12-months and, in the process, launched a company called Spire. Spire is a big data company powered by small satellites focused, not on satellite imagery, but on other remote sensing capabilities. By placing cheap, nano-satellites into Low Earth Orbit, Spire aims to provide high-frequency Automatic Identification System (AIS) data to track vessels and assets on the open ocean, as well as to monitor piracy, illegal fishing, maritime security, and even geopolitical conflicts in places like the South China Sea. Spire also fills an upcoming gap in the US national weather data set caused by the end-of-life of certain government weather satellites. And Spire solves this problem at a significant cost savings for the American taxpayer.

Now, tracking vessels and cloud formations is not exactly new stuff. These markets exist today and they are, frankly, relatively unremarkable. That is partly because there has been relatively little innovation in support of these applications until now.

As the Spire team builds its constellation of Nanosatellites, they are creating a future in which weather data remains cheap and accessible, in which highly precise asset tracking becomes possible on the open ocean, in which higher frequency AIS improves maritime security, and in which manufacturers always know where their products are, even when they’re inside containers on the open ocean. We believe great products in these areas can unlock substantial latent demand and spawn a new, high-growth market that rapidly eclipses the old one.

Whether it’s MakerBot, Wisdom Tree, BuzzFeed or Spire, the commonality in each of these companies is a tenacious founding team with a relatively unique point of view, and the capabilities to bring real innovation to the task of creating a new market. Markets don’t coalesce around ideas; great entrepreneurs create the conditions in which their vision can become reality.

Introducing RRE Flatiron, Our New Downtown Space Designed for Co-working, Events & Community

Will Porteous

Today we are excited to announce RRE Flatiron, our new downtown space designed for co-working, events and community. For a few years we've been discussing opening a second office space in Manhattan. We find ourselves in the Flatiron neighborhood multiple times a week to visit our portfolio companies and to meet with entrepreneurs. This new space gives our team the flexibility to work Uptown or Downtown, depending on our individual schedules.


We also wanted a space where our team could share desks alongside our portfolio founders and members of the technology community. RRE Flatiron is designed for working in a different environment for a day, or as a place to recharge in-between meetings. 

Finally, we wanted a workspace that transforms into a venue to host, co-host and sponsor special events. You can expect a mix of industry-specific roundtables and demo nights, as well as community facing meetups, classes, panels and pop-up shops. 

RRE Flatiron is located at 54 West 21st Street - a building that has been home to many of our portfolio companies over the years. If you’d like to host your next meetup or event at RRE Flatiron, email to schedule a tour.

A lot of people on the RRE team contributed to making this happen, particularly Steve, Amrit and Rachel. We are excited about our new space and hope that we'll be seeing more of you there soon!

Introducing Breather: Beautiful, Private, On-demand City Spaces

Steven Schlafman

Two years ago I was introduced to Julien Smith, Founder / CEO of Montreal and NYC-based Breather, by my good friend Taylor Davidson. Taylor explained that Breather was building a new type of private cafe that could be accessed via mobile app. I thought the concept sounded crazy and unique at the same time so I agreed to take a meeting with Julien. When I first met Julien and he explained the concept to me, I believed he was absolutely nuts. For those of you who haven’t heard of Breather, it’s a network of private spaces you can access by the hour through an iPhoneand Android app. Think of Breather as productive and private space on demand. 

Breather quietly launched in NYC earlier this year and Julien encouraged me to give it a shot. I believe I was one of their first customers. In fact, I was so pleasantly surprised by the experience I decided to write a detailed post about what it’s like to work in a Breather space. I had never experienced anything quite like it. The company created a “full stack” experience that felt like magic. Pull out my phone. Activate the Breather app. Pick a location. Reserve a time slot. Invite colleagues. Turn by turn directions to the space. Arrive at the door. Access the space via the Breather app. And presto! I now have private space all to myself. Here’s where Breather is different: they own the end-to-end experience from the app all the way down to the look and feel of the spaces. The experience is carefully crafted and consistent throughout the network. You can tell the team deeply cares about the user experience. A well-known investor used the service after I encouraged him to give it a try. He texted me immediately afterwards and simply wrote, “It was flawless.”  

During my first meeting with Julien I remember asking him, “what sane person would want to rent a furnished room without a bed by the hour?”  Well, it turns out that thousands of normal people like freelancers, business travelers, artists, and actors see value in accessing productive space on demand. And the early numbers prove it’s working. Total hours booked in the network have nearly quadrupled in the last three months.  Utilization and occupancy rates are increasing. Nearly all the spaces are profitable. Most importantly, the customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and consistent: We love experience and we want more spaces on the map.

I’m incredibly excited to announce that RRE Ventures has led a $6m Series A investment in Julien and the team at Breather.  This continues our theme in investing in tech-enabled real estate (see Hightower and Floored). The funding will be used to enhance the mobile and offline experiences and expand locations on the map. It’s still early days for the company but Julien and I share the belief that the timing is perfect for a service like Breather to thrive.  There are millions of locks globally which will soon be connected.  Everyone has a computer in their pocket. More people are living and working in urban centers. Accessing real estate and space hasn’t changed in decades.  Workers are now mobile more than ever before.  Distributed organizations are en vogue. Freelancers are making up larger share of the labor pool.  For the first time in history, a service like Breather is possible. 

If Starbucks created the third space (the public cafe), Breather has created the fourth space. There are now more than a dozen locations to unlock in NYC and three locations just launched in San Francisco.  I encourage you to give it a try and would love to hear what you think about the experience. 

Tinybop: Educating Kids Around the World

Steven Schlafman

Several years ago when I was at Lerer Ventures, Sam Gerstenzang, our summer intern, recommended  that I meet with Raul Gutierrez, Founder CEO of a Brooklyn-based creative studio called Tinybop.  When Sam explained that Tinybop was building educational apps for kids, I was immediately skeptical because I’ve seen hundreds of companies in the space and my identical twin brother founded a children’s media studio, ButtKid. After some back and forth with Sam, I begrudgingly agreed to meet with Raul but promised that I would keep an open mind. Over the course of the next two years, Raul and I spent countless hours talking about the future of children’s media and his vision for building the next great education brand.  To Raul’s credit, he was able to transform me from a skeptic to a believer.  Despite the space being hyper competitive with thousands of app publishers, I truly believe that Tinybop is the one percent of the one percent.  That’s why I’m incredibly excited and proud to announce that RRE has led Tinybop’s Series A Financing with participation from TwoSigma, KEC, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures and Kapor Capital.  

So what exactly is Tinybop? Tinybop is building a constellation of highly immersive educational apps that are global, universal and timeless. Each application, along with their teaching guides and marketing collateral, is translated into more than 50 languages. They’re one of the first studios I’ve seen that is taking advantage of the collapsing digital divide. Additionally, the content is universal and evergreen, meaning the topics are relevant on every continent and will never fall out of favor with parents and educators. The company’s goal is to build a global media brand that teaches kids in every country about the world through play and exploration.  Every single person at Tinybop deeply cares about education, design, creativity and community.  The values of the team shine through their products when you experience them. The children’s space is littered with thousands of mediocre apps so the team at Tinybop is always pushing new boundaries with their apps. 

Tinybop’s first series, The Explorer’s Library, helps children answer fundamental questions about the world and themselves.  You can think of this series as the World Book Encyclopedia for the mobile age.  Their first app, The Human Body, has been downloaded more than five million times in over one hundred and fifty countries.  Additionally, The Human Body was named as App of the Week in September 2013 and Best of 2013 by Apple in dozens of countries.  I’m also excited to announce Tinybop has just launched their second app in the Explorer’s Library, Plants.  It’s an interactive diorama of the world’s biomes.  Trying to describe the app won’t do it any justice so here’s the app’s trailer:   

Plants by Tinybop from Tinybop on Vimeo.

Pretty cool, eh?  The Human Body and Plants are just the beginning. The company’s product roadmap is massive and ambitious.  While we’re just starting our journey together, I’m inspired, honored and thrilled to help Raul and his team educate and inspire tens of millions of kids in every corner of the globe.  Please join me in welcoming Tinybop to the RRE family.