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Meet David Bohnett of Baroda Ventures in Beverly Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Bohnett.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
After receiving my BS in Business and Computer Science at USC I pursued my MBA at The University of Michigan. Upon returning to Los Angeles, I started my career as a Systems Consultant with Andersen Consulting (which ultimately became Accenture).

Following Andersen Consulting, I held a variety of positions in the software field including CTO, CFO, Product Manger and VP of Marketing. Having had a lifelong passion for the power of computers to connect with others of like-minded interests, I started the early social network/community-based internet company, GeoCities.com, in 1994. GeoCities gave everyone a free web page and the tools and utilities to create their own user generated content, based on their passions and interests, in one of may thematic communities of interest. The web site became highly popular, and the business model was advertising and e-commerce supported. GeoCities is cited as a forerunner to today’s social networks and help establish the viability of content created by internet users themselves. GeoCities went public in 1998 and was sold to Yahoo in 1999.

Yahoo maintained GeoCities for 10 years, also a version of the company, GeoCities Japan, is still in operation. After the sale of GeoCities, I set up my early stage venture capital funds, Baroda Ventures, as well as the David Bohnett Foundation. Baroda Ventures has invested in many notable tech start ups over the years, including Stamps.com, NetZero, Gamesville, WireImage, ID90, Steelhouse Media, and others. The David Bohnett Foundation is focused on grant making to promote improvement in society through social activism. The giving has been focused on social justice causes in voter registration, civic engagement, public policy, lesbian and gay civil rights, as well as major Los Angeles based arts organizations.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The initial struggle with GeoCities was securing the funding the support the growth of the user base and overall expansion of the business. The challenges at Baroda Ventures have been focused on backing entrepreneurs who lacked the temperament and skills to build a successful company, thankfully this has been true in a minority of cases.

The David Bohnett Foundation has been a stalwart and major funder in the effort to reduce the tragic effect of gun violence in our society. The lack of will among political leaders has been a major challenge in this effort.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Baroda Ventures – what should we know?
We invest in very early stage tech start-ups with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs who we believe have the passion, vision, and drive to be successful.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The positive (and sometimes negative) examples set by other business leaders and philanthropists have played a big role in my own thinking and approach.

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