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The Valley’s Party Animal

Rothenberg Ventures stands out by throwing bashes for entrepreneurs

In his San Francisco office, Mike Rothenberg , a self-described “millennial venture capitalist,” is sipping an iced coffee surrounded by three Apple computer screens, an Apple Watch on his wrist and an iPhone within reach. He’s explaining what he means when he talks about “the transitive power of amazing.” Roughly translated, the idea is that the best way for Rothenberg’s venture firm to find promising startups and attract capital is to throw lots of parties for young technology workers. Rothenberg’s not a character from the HBO comedy Silicon Valley, but he’s been an inspiration to the makers of the show.

His three-year-old firm, Rothenberg Ventures, has made a name for itself by sparing few expenses. Its rotating list of invitees have ridden hot-air balloons on wine tours of Napa Valley, eaten at San Francisco’s trendy Samovar Tea Lounge, and gotten free seats to Giants and Golden State Warriors games in Rothenberg’s luxury boxes. Another regular Rothenberg gathering is Puppy Hour, which brings together puppies and booze. For its biggest event, called Founder Field Day, the firm rents AT&T Park, the Giants’ stadium, each April. Startup founders take batting practice on the field and get free massages. Silicon Valley co-creator Mike Judge shot a similar-looking scene for the show’s second-season premiere, which aired shortly before Rothenberg’s 2015 ballpark outing.