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Former Time Exec Fran Hauser Is Now a VC

She used to be one of the publisher's most prominent digital executives. Now she's a partner at Rothenberg Ventures.

Shutterstock / Ryabitskaya Elena

Fran Hauser, the high-powered Time Inc. exec who left the publisher in February, has chosen a new job — and it’s nowhere near old media.

She’ll be a venture capitalist.

Hauser will become a partner at Rothenberg Ventures, which describes itself as “the fastest growing Millennial venture firm.” Rothenberg invested $10 million last year; its portfolio includes Tile and Chat Sports.

At Time, Hauser ran digital for People and the publisher’s other lifestyle publications, and was often in charge of overseeing (and pushing for) more in-house tech development and startup acquisitions. She has also done angel investing on her own time — notably in female-founded companies like Levo League and Hullabalu.

It was the founder of Hullabalu, Suzanne Xie, who suggested that Hauser and Rothenberg Ventures founder Mike Rothenberg, both investors in her company, get to know each other. The two met at a Le Pain Quotidien near Time Inc.’s Manhattan headquarters.

“I’m looking at this guy, and I’m thinking he’s not even 30 years old. He’s young. I’m like a senior citizen compared to him,” she said, laughing (Hauser is in her mid-40s). “But he’s very driven, he’s hungry.”

Was he wearing a hoodie?

“No, he was not wearing a hoodie,” she said. “It’s not quite like that.”

She decided to invest in his fund (wouldn’t say how much). Soon he started calling her for advice on deals. At the beginning of the year, he asked her to join his team as a partner.

“We complement each other. I’m an operator. I’ve built businesses, I’ve run businesses. I bring experience,” said Hauser, who lives with her family in Bedford, N.Y. “And I bring a very consumer-centric point of view when I’m vetting deals.”

Time Inc., which is going to spin out from Time Warner this spring, might end up doing deals once it is on its own. But it hasn’t done many in the past few years, as the company went through a series of CEOs and layoffs.

“Over the years we did a few. There was definitely an appetite for investing,” she said. “It was challenging, though. Time Inc. is part of Time Warner. Time Warner always had to get involved.”

Recruiters began to suspect that Hauser would be leaving, and she started getting calls.

“You had the traditional media companies wanting me to come run digital. Then a lot of startups who wanted me to go in and be the grownup CEO,” she said. “And then there was venture capital — I’d been doing angel investing for a couple years and had been just loving it.”

In the past 18 months, Rothenberg Ventures has invested in 50 companies with cash from 80 different investors. Hauser hopes to invest largely in startups with female founders. Only 11 percent of venture-backed startups are founded by women, she noted. “Rothenberg Partners brings me a bigger platform to make that number change.”

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