The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Mel Gaceta, Synchrony Financial
Mel Gaceta had a clear mandate when he joined US-listed Synchrony Financial last June after running US phone operator US Cellular’s strategic partnerships and business development team.
He was to “identify, execute, and manage Synchrony Financial’s strategic minority equity investments” under Michael Hensinger, senior vice-president and senior managing director.
With more than 16 years in corporate venture capital investing this was something Gaceta, a former GCV Rising Star, has had plenty of experience in and was a natural recruit for Synchrony, which floated after spinning out from General Electric’s consumer finance operation in 2014.
As well as training two new team members, Kevin Weber and Kelly Shaw, hired into the team in the final quarter of last year, Gaceta has been active on deals. He said he “took over management of investments made before the practice was established, [including GPShopper,] as well as closed three new deals in 2016”.
These deals in the second half of last year included payment card management platform First Performance’s $17.5m round and an undisclosed amount in FlexReceipts, a provider of digital receipts.
Synchrony acquired portfolio company GPShopper in March having initially made a strategic investment in the developer of mobile apps for retailers and brands in January 2015. The companies collaborated on several mobile offerings, including the Synchrony Plug-in, or SyPi, a native credit feature that plugs into a retailer’s mobile app.
Another of its former portfolio companies, LoopPay, a mobile payment platform, which Synchrony backed in July 2014, was acquired by Samsung and integrated into Samsung Pay in 2015.
Gaceta added: “For 2017, we will continue to refine the investment process and portfolio management capabilities, such as deal-tracking, reporting and due diligence. Additionally, we will continue to refine our investment focus areas, so we can be efficient in our pursuit of strategic investments. Last, we expect to ramp up pitches to our investment committee.”
Much of his experience came from 13-plus years in the corporate venture community at Motorola Ventures before joining US Cellular at the end of 2013.
He had joined telecoms equipment company Motorola’s ventures unit at its inauguration in November 2000 as director of finance, managing all aspects of accounting and finance for its then $200m-plus strategic investment portfolio.
In late 2004, he became an investment manager at what went on to be Motorola Solutions Venture Capital after the split of the parent. His deals at Motorola included Lumidigm, Siimpel, Invidi Technologies, AirClic, Zephyr Technology, MicroPower Tech and Canvas.
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