The top 25: Amy Banse, Comcast Ventures
Amy Banse has headed Comcast Ventures, where she is a managing director and head of funds, since mid-2011. This dates back to Comcast’s corporate venturing unit merger with NBC’s Peacock Fund, creating a $750m vehicle.
It has been an active fund, with mass media company Comcast backing 164 portfolio companies since 2009, split between advertising, consumer, enterprise and infrastructure sectors. The year 2017 seems to have been an active one for Comcast Ventures.
Just in October alone, the unit closed three investments, including a contribution to a $10m series-A round for digital office management platform Eden, to a $25m series-C round for intelligence software developer AtScale alongside UMC Capital, and to a $25m round for hair-colouring brand Madison Reed that it led.
September was just as busy, again with three deals, including two as lead investor – a $25m series-D for digital locksmith KeyMe, and a $20m series-B round for Mealpal.
But the fund has delivered on returns. Last month, US-based digital signature technology provider DocuSign floated in a $629m initial public offering in which internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet and Comcast sold shares.
The shares were priced at $29, above the $24 to $26 range the company set, and gave DocuSign a market capitalisation of more than $4.4bn after some $525m of funding since 2003.
However, Comcast under Banse has been one of the most thoughtful about it diversification strategy. She said 45% (74) of these 164 companies have had diverse founders and co-founders and 20% (32) companies with women founders and co-founders.
Comcast has the Catalyst fund, a dedicated fund focused on supporting underrepresented founders led by Kai Bond, who joined from Samsung Accelerator. Catalyst has, since 2011, made 22 direct investments active and exited of which 45% (10) had been of companies with women founders and co-founders (all were diverse by default).
Her team of 22 people includes 10 managing directors (MDs), eight principals, two interns, and two other, six are female. At the team level, Comcast also witnessed several moves. In July, early-stage investor Christian Ebersol, who had been part of the firm since 2014, announced his departure for VC-backed healthcare analytics firm Health IQ.
Two months later, the unit announced the nomination of Gil Beyda as managing director, following the promotion of principal Daniel Gulati to partner and they have both been chosen for GCV Rising Stars 2018.
Banse previously founded Comcast Interactive Media in 2005 and led the company’s online strategy over the next six years, overseeing various acquisitions and in-house projects, including Comcast.net, Xfinity.com, Fancast and Swirl. She joined Comcast in 1991 as an in-house attorney for programming acquisition. She worked on the development of Comcast’s cable network portfolio, including the company’s investments in E! Entertainment Television and the Golf Channel. She has a degree from Harvard University and studied at Temple University’s James E Beasley School of Law after following in her father’s footsteps – he was general counsel for Merck.