The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Roy Bahat, Bloomberg Beta
Roy Bahat, head of Bloomberg Beta, said when it closed its second $75m fund in July: “Bloomberg was one of the original technology startups when Michael Bloomberg founded the company in 1981, and we try to carry that spirit in Bloomberg Beta.
“In our first fund, Bloomberg supported us in creating a different kind of venture fund. We built Bloomberg Beta to treat our founders like we treat Bloomberg’s customers, with great care, trust, transparency and a service driven by data. The revolutionary plan for our second fund is to just keep on doing exactly what we have been doing.”
Bahat said he hoped to convert these two $75m funds into $450m of returns. “We need to at least triple them to be great.”
Bahat became head of media business Bloomberg’s corporate venturing unit in 2013 and is a self-professed man obsessed. His first obsession is as a husband and father of two, but after that it is being “obessed with how we make work – the thing we do with more waking hours than any other – better”.
In February, US-based office space provider Knotel raised $25m in a series A round that included e-commerce holding group Rocket Internet and Bloomberg Beta. Invest AG, the investment arm of financial services firm Raiffeisen’s Austrian bank group, also participated, as did venture capital firm 500 Startups and assorted angel investors.
Founded in 2015, Knotel operates a network of customised offices that companies can lease as their headquarters without long-term commitment. Knotel does not own the majority of these offices but connects tenants with landlords through a managed marketplace. The network spans 10 locations in New York but the series A capital will enable the addition of another 40 spaces over the next year.
Bahat said at the time: “Fast-growing companies need an entirely new kind of workplace experience than plain offices provide. Knotel can offer that new workplace experience, for that new kind of company. There is a clear opportunity to build a grand-scale business on Knotel’s platform.”
Bloomberg’s other recent deals include Sapho, a US-based micro enterprise app development platform for older software, which raised $14m in its series B round.
He said for last year’s Powerlist profile: “In 2013, Bloomberg gave me the opportunity to turn my obsession into my job when we created Bloomberg Beta. I believe the fastest way to make change is to build extraordinary technology companies, and, these days, machine intelligence companies in particular.
“There was a time when tech was the outsider, the underdog. Now it is the industry, and it is time to act like it, which means taking responsibility for the things [we introduce into the world]. Take self-driving cars. One of the top professions for US men is truck driver. I think the top job across both genders is cashier [another role being disrupted by technology].”
While many venture investors are only beginning to realise the importance of branding and positioning in respect of entrepreneurs so as to tap the best dealflow, Bahat has gone further than most in optimising his own work.
As Bloomberg Beta says on its Github page: “Founders are our customers.” With a team in New York, including GCV Rising Star 2016 Karin Klein, and San Francisco, where Bahat is based alongside GCV Rising Star 2017 Shivon Zilis, completing at least a deal each month, it seems the customers like what they are hearing.
In an interview with TechCrunch last year, Bahat said: “We open-sourced the model for our fund and it has all been updated continuously over the years on GitHub. We [separately] realised that as a small fund focused on the early-stage market you cannot see all the deals in your space, even in a narrow domain.
“There are people we love working with, so we started backing them through what we call our Open Scouts Program. We run it through AngelList [a website connecting entrepreneurs with investors] and instead of making soft commitments, as many do on the platform, we have committed to giving these three angels – Max Simkoff, Shruti Gandhi and Parker Thompson – a certain amount to invest behind every deal they fund.”
Bahat was founder and chairman of gaming console company Ouya, which was sold to Razer in 2015. He was previously president of IGN Entertainment and a vice-president at media group News Corporation. He was also director of strategy for NYC2012, the bid by New York to run the Olympic games. He was a senior policy director at the New York mayor’s office between February 2002 and November 2003, when Bloomberg’s founder Michael Bloomberg took over as mayor. He was previously an associate at consulting firm McKinsey & Co. He has an MPhil in economics from Oxford University and read social studies at Harvard University.
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