Silicon Valley venture capitalists are often associated with three commas, cars with butterfly doors, and hot tubs by Lake Tahoe.
But none of that comes to mind when people think about Ryan Hoover. His name is frequently followed by “so nice” and “humble.”
He’s a guy who sends tweets like this:
Today I tried eggplant bacon for the first time. AMA!
— Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover) September 20, 2017
On Thursday, Hoover announced the Weekend Fund, a $3 million venture capital fund he will manage on his nights and weekends, as the name suggests.
“My goal and target is to invest in early stage companies, pre-launched companies to seed stage,” Hoover said. “I’m not going very narrow in my focus because partly I want to get exposed and introduced to a lot of different companies.”
Exposure to young companies has been Hoover’s claim to fame over the last four years. Hoover has become one of the most popular figures in San Francisco after he launched Product Hunt in 2014. The website has connected the tech community, helping founders, VCs, consumers, and journalists discover the latest apps and products.
Despite being one of the most sought after people in Silicon Valley, Hoover’s reputation is responding quickly and thoughtfulyl to everybody—no matter if it’s a longtime friend or a young engineer.
“He’s the epitome of humble and the epitome of helpful,” said Greg Isenberg, a serial entrepreneur who most recently founded the app Islands. “I don’t understand A) how he has the time and B) how he’s able to do it with a smile, a classic Ryan Hoover smile.”
“I have never seen Ryan mad,” said Niv Dror, who has run community at Product Hunt since 2015. “He’s just extremely well composed when responding to people. On a related note, he responds to everyone. That’s how the early PH community got started, and it goes today to, responding to every basic question on Twitter if he sees it.”
Hoover said he’s not done with Product Hunt. Growing that company will still be his main job. Venture capital was something he has wanted to explore for awhile, and he expressed deep interest in actually diving into after he sold Product Hunt to AngelList in 2016.
With the Weekend Fund, Hoover said he plans to invest in about 10 companies per year. What they focus on is up in the air. “There are certain things that I’m avoiding. Biotech is something that I don’t have any experience compared to a community-based startup,” Hoover said.
What excites Hoover? A lot. But when it comes to VC funding he will most likely be looking at consumer tech.
“There’s a lot of kind of bearish feelings around consumer tech, but I think we’re starting to see Alexa and Google Home emerge. ARKit just launched. Generally speaking I get excited about new technologies and ways to change user behavior,” he said.
Hoover’s resume isn’t typical of a VC. He didn’t go to an Ivy League school. He didn’t work at a tech giant like Facebook or Google. But he has overseen more than 30,000 entrepreneurs launching their products on Product Hunt and that knowledge is invaluable, Isenberg noted.
“The most valuable investors are product-oriented.”
“I think every early stage founder when they raise money, they realize the most valuable investors are product-oriented. It’s hard to get from seed to Series A. The only way you’re able to do that if you find product market fit,” Isenberg said.
Hoover’s appearance does align with the majority of Silicon Valley, however. When asked about his thoughts on diversity in the tech industry, he replied, “I find it something that’s challenging to talk about these issues because I’m a white male. I don’t want to misspeak and say something that’ll be misinterpreted.”
He said his fund won’t strictly be committed to funding companies by underrepresented founders like Arlan Hamilton’s Backstage Capital does.
But unlike others in the industry, Hoover has been proactive and mindful to conversations around diversity. Earlier this year, he evaluated his own Twitter followers and sorted them by gender and race. The findings were striking: 79 percent were men and 85 percent were white.
Since then, Hoover has made an effort to “create a more diverse network,” as he wrote on Medium.
“It doesn’t mean I’m going to unfollow a bunch of men and follow a bunch of women, but I’m looking to find more women to follow and then maybe two or three years in the future who knows where that might lead,” Hoover said.
As for Product Hunt, Hoover said his team is focused on two areas. Last week, the team launched Ship, a new platform meant to help product people and makers grow their companies pre-launch and after. They also are growing the consumer side by improving how users can find and learn about projects via the Product Hunt database.
So how does one contact Hoover about an investment? He has a new email: firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also quite accessible on Twitter.