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DominateFund: Less Hollywood, less hashtag

September 6, 2013: 12:53 PM ET

Former Mashable editor still trying to raise a VC fund, but now with a different pitch.


FORTUNE -- It's been nearly a year since former Mashable editor Ben Parr launched #DominateFund, a venture capital effort that sought to bridge the divide between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. He would give actors and musicians a means to invest in tech startups, and then leverage those relationships to garner brand endorsements and other entertainment industry goodies for his portfolio companies. Perfect celebrity symbiosis.

But the strategy undergone a major transformation, as #DominateFund continues to raise its debut fund (which was originally targeting just $5 million). Namely, the Hollywood angle has been deemphasized, in favor of a viral marketing angle. It's also lost the hashtag (although that's not yet reflected on the firm's bare-bones website).

"As we began getting pitched by more and more entrepreneurs, we learned that the Hollywood stuff was a very minor reason why they were interested in us," explains Parr. "What they really want is a team that understands that world, but also has deep experience in viral marketing and media."

Parr believes he fills that "media" piece, thanks to his experience at Mashable. His fellow co-founders -- Matt Schlicht and Mazy Kazerooni -- have deep experience in the viral marketing world, through past work at UStream and a newer startup that helps market young artists like Tyga and Lil Twist.

No comment from Parr on the fundraising piece, but word is that not too many celebrities signed up -- leading DominateFund to hit up more traditional VC fund investors like funds-of-funds (which may be a blessing in disguise, since celebrity capital can be a bit higher-risk than that of institutional investors). For example, Parr was spotted earlier this summer at the SuperReturn U.S. conference in Boston, which is aimed at limited partners in VC and private equity funds.

There has at least been a first close, however, since DominateFund currently has seven portfolio companies.

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Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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