Levitan's firm also backs August, Course Hero, and peerTransfer.
Fortune: You started Maveron in 1998 with Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, after serving as his investment banker. Its focus has always been on consumer brands. Why?
Dan Levitan: There are lots of ways to make money in venture capital, and there are even more ways to be mediocre. The industry has too much money and too many smart people chasing too few great entrepreneurs. We believed the world didn't need another commoditized venture capital firm. Our theory was that the operating characteristics of technology companies would be incorporated into consumer businesses in an unprecedented way as technology integrated into consumers' lives.
We're sitting in your Seattle offices in what you call your inspiration room. Brag a bit, please, about your biggest wins.
Behind you are plaques for our four billion-dollar companies: eBay, Capella University, Groupon, and Zulily. Potbelly is close, but it's not there yet. We always talk about being able to find great entrepreneurs before it's obvious to the world, and help them on the path from obscurity to ubiquity. It's never a straight line. We started with eBay, and I'm glad that over the years we've been able to have multiple successes.
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