At a crowded opening reception to unveil their new University City office space Wednesday night, there was Yards Beer, Little Baby’s Ice Cream and, yes, the 10,000 square foot space also features skeeball (yup, invented in this city).
More than just the sideshow, Kopelman also gave the event’s programming a Philadelphia-first appeal, which isn’t exactly a common refrain from investment firms.
It started with the attendance. While Mayor Nutter has added local technology and entrepreneurship events to his calendar, and Councilman Bill Green is a longtime familiar face to the scene, followed more recently by freshman Councilman David Oh, Kopelman’s housewarming also drew a pair of big name city leaders who are perhaps less familiar, if as relevant to such outings: University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and Comcast Executive Vice President and Penn Board of Trustees member David L. Cohen.
A move like this, the thinking goes, catches the eyes of power brokers, like Gutmann and Cohen and future job creators, to continue to shape perception of what is here and could be here. (That is why, presumably, City Council offered a tax break for general partners of investment funds, no small motivator for Kopleman to be here)
Kopelman, a Wharton alumnus, spoke fondly of bringing his firm to University City at 4040 Locust Street, on the outskirts of Penn’s campus. On that theme, the event also featured a video, co-mingling First Round and Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial future, as seen below and including, full disclosure, this reporter.
Indeed, while the firm’s portfolio and others from the investment and startup community were well represented, there was a healthy mix of city officials and its boosters. Gutmann mentioned specifically the frequently noted brain drain of entrepreneurial talent from Wharton and cited Kopelman’s move here as an important sign of change, an idea that the Nutter administration appears to be making a hallmark of its legacy.
Previously, First Round was based in West Conshohocken, and Kopelman, himself, lives in the suburbs, though others on the First Round team are city dwellers — at least one privately cheered to Technically Philly the chance to make his commute a bicycle-related one.
Now, the First Round narrative will follow how University City continues to evolve as an innovation cluster and what other impact a firm with a national profile on the early stage can mean.