The top 25: Jacqueline LeSage Krause, managing director, Munich Re Ventures

Jacqueline LeSage Krause is founder and managing director of Munich Re Ventures (MRV), the strategic investment arm for Germany-listed reinsurance firm Munich Re including its US-based Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) Inspection and Insurance arm and its Europe-based ERGO primary insurance subsidiary.

LeSage Krause joined the company to form the venture group in 2014, initially with $50m in capital from HSB. Over the past five years under her leadership, MRV has expanded to work strategically with all Munich Re business groups and grown to more than $500m in capital committed across four funds and 12 investment themes.

At San Francisco-based MRV, LeSage Krause has applied her insights to drive the firm and industry forward. She currently sits on the boards of Augury and Trov and is a board observer at Helium and Forge. Previously, she was on the board of Relayr, until its acquisition by HSB/Munich Re.

LeSage Krause explained that as MRV is a strategic corporate venture capital (CVC) unit, strategic goals come first while financial goals are equally important for ensuring partnership success and CVC longevity, adding that MRV funds have a financial return target. By leveraging Munich Re’s balance sheet and industry network, portfolio companies receive added value from the group’s many different business units (BUs).

This is demonstrated by the strategic success of Munich Re’s initial three BU-driven funds – Munich Re Fund, HSB Fund and Ergo Fund. All of these funds’ portfolio companies have had strategic engagement with a Munich Re business. And two of the companies went on to either be acquired by Munich Re/HSB (Relayr) or had a significant investment from the parent company (Next).

Munich Re’s newest fund – a strategic optionality fund – is governed by MRV and invests in strategic investment themes ahead of the businesses. A robust portfolio development team within MRV takes over the strategic relationship initially, nurturing potential future opportunities for mutual strategic value between the portfolio company and Munich Re businesses to the point of reality. The first three investment areas for this fund are insurtech, energy transition and next-generation transportation.

LeSage Krause’s main focus, in addition to remaining an active investor, has been to develop a strong and stable investment platform for many of the diverse and still emergent approaches that Munich Re would be taking to accessing innovation.

MRV’s latest deals include the $4m funding for hardware cybersecurity technology developer Sepio Systems in March 2020, having co-led a $34m series B round for cyber insurance provider At-Bay the month before.

In October 2019, Munich Re Group supplied $250m in series C funding for online insurance platform Next Insurance at a valuation of more than $1bn to take its stake to approximately 27.5%. This followed MRV’s investments in the company’s Series A and B rounds, including leading the latter.

Meanwhile, MRV’s Ergo Fund participated in artificial intelligence-equipped healthcare app developer Babylon Health’s $550m series C round in August 2019.

Munich Re Ventures has 23 portfolio companies to date, primarily in the internet of things and insurtech sectors, having invested more than $180m in companies at all stages across North America and Europe.

This depth and range of activity have helped LeSage Krause attract talented individuals to join her team, including GCV Emerging Leader Sidra Ahmed Lefort as well as Rising Stars Ben Bergsma, Amir Kabir, Sophie Dingreville and Matthew McElhattan.

LeSage Krause was previously vice-president of innovation and CVC at US-based insurer Hartford Financial Services Group. She founded the groups responsible for both internal innovation – incubating new offerings, customer experiences and business models through the Innovation Studio – and external innovation – investing venture capital in startups and forming strategic alliances through Hartford Ventures.

Prior to Hartford Ventures, she was the founder and chief executive of a digital video startup, and a consultant with AT Kearney for six years in the US and China.

LeSage Krause holds a bachelor of science in economics and multinational management from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and an MBA from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF