The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order by company): Michael Hensinger, Synchrony Ventures
Michael Hensinger, senior vice-president and senior managing director at Synchrony Ventures, the corporate venturing unit of the US-based financial services group Synchrony Financial, has a focus on equity investments in early stage companies in the financial technology (fintech), ecommerce and emerging technology sectors, including artificial intelligence (AI), data and analytics, consumer finance, and blockchain technologies.
But his primary focus has been building a strong partnership internally. Hensinger said: “Building the team and the investment process, making several early stage fintech investments, and seeing the impact those investments can have on innovation have all been very rewarding experiences as we build Synchrony Ventures.
“Having a strong team is critical to the success of CVC units. At Synchrony Ventures, we built a team that includes experienced and talented CVC professionals like Mel Gaceta, managing director at Synchrony Ventures, along with strong up and coming talent like vice-president Kelly Shaw and assistant vice-president Kevin Weber.
“The team has done a great job establishing the Synchrony presence in the venture and startup communities.”
As an organisation with more than 84 years of experience financing major consumer purchases and elective healthcare and as the largest provider of private label credit cards in the US, it is perhaps no surprise that Synchrony Ventures’ early deals have included payment card management platform First Performance’s $17.5m round and an undisclosed amount in FlexReceipts, a provider of digital receipts in 2016, with Lisnr and First Performance joining the portfolio last year.
In November, Lisnr, a US-based provider of data-over-audio technology, raised strategic financing from Synchrony, as part of a larger, undisclosed round with participation from Mercury Fund, Jump Capital, NGMP, and Danmar Capital.
In January last year, First Performance Global, a US-based provider of payment card management technology, completed a $17.5m round led by payment services firm Mastercard and including financial services providers Regions Financial and Synchrony Financial and venture capital firm RRE Ventures.
Synchrony also 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.
Hensinger said GPShopper had been one of its “more rewarding outcomes” as the deal started as a strategic investment in 2015, the year he joined the company, and led to the development of new Synchrony technology called Synchrony Plug-in, or SY-PI.
And he added: “Corporate venture capital is an exciting way to drive innovation within corporate environments. Leveraging the resources and expertise within Synchrony with cutting edge technologies and innovations in the startup community is a great way to develop innovative solutions for our merchant partners and our customers.
“I find CVC to be an energising way to leverage my experience in complex commercial transactions and equity investing, along my interest in cutting-edge technology. I have always enjoyed working directly with the founders of early-stage companies as they look to take their ideas and companies to the next level.”
Hensinger joined Synchrony 2.5 years ago after a four-year stint at General Electric (GE), initially for strategic investments relating to its leveraged loans and latterly as chief commercial officer for GE Capital, Global Financial Solutions, which provided cross-border and customised financing to multinational corporations.
After his MBA at Fordham Gabelli School of Business, Hensinger had earlier spent more than a decade at GE before leaving to develop lending businesses at FirstLight Financial, CIT Group and TD Bank.
But while he has travelled far in his career he said he enjoyed music, baseball, tennis, and skiing with his family.
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