Vulcan Capital is Family Capital’s Investment Group of the Year 2019.
Vulcan Capital is the investment arm of Vulcan, the holding company created by the late Seattle-based billionaire, philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and his sister, Jody Allen. Ownership of the Seattle-based group passed to Paul’s sister after his death in October last year, and Jody is now chairwoman of the group.
A sizable chunk of the profits made through Vulcan Capital’s successful investments finds their way back into other parts of Vulcan’s businesses, particularly at the philanthropic and impact-led level
Vulcan Capital is one of the most active private investment offices in the world. Since launched in 2003, it has acquired stakes in a host of big tech brands, including Alibaba, Uber, and Spotify, and many smaller venture-type businesses as well.
Overseen by its CIO, Chris Orndorff since 2016, Vulcan Capital has a broad remit. It invests in startups, but might also buy a sizable stake in a public company, and it does pretty much everything in between including fixed income and public equity funds.
But perhaps it is venture investing that Vulcan has developed its enviable reputation. In the last four years, the group has stepped up its efforts in this area, participating in more than 50 investment rounds, across many different sectors. Vulcan Capital has invested in biotech, SaaS, e-commerce, AI, big data, building/property tech, fintech and many other tech sectors.
Last month, Vulcan Capital bought stakes in four venture groups, including an augmented reality business, a food-production tech group, and an online fleet management and maintenance platform. It invests internationally, although most of the venture investments have been in the US, and it often stays very close to home, buying stakes in many Seattle-based startups.
But Vulcan Capital is growing its international presence, and last August, the group opened an office in Singapore to invest in Asia’s thriving tech sector.
A sizable chunk of the profits made through Vulcan Capital’s successful investments finds their way back into other parts of Vulcan’s businesses, particularly at the philanthropic and impact-led level. In this respect, Vulcan has made a name for itself in areas like conservation, ocean health, public health, urban regeneration, and alternative energy. Vulcan Capital’s success helps many of these impact-led initiatives.
Money from Vulcan Capital also feeds into the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which was jointly founded by Paul and Jody. At the time of his death, Paul was one of the top philanthropists in the US.
It is often said that there is no such thing as a duplicate family/private investment office. They are all unique in their own way, ultimately reflecting the uniqueness of the individuals and/or members of the family who set them up.
Vulcan is no different in this respect. But the uniqueness of the sector doesn’t mean that there aren’t things from established family offices that other investment groups can’t learn from, even copy. Vulcan, supported by its investment arm Vulcan Capital, is one of those businesses.
Paul and Jody, with the support of Vulcan’s staff, have effectively created a family holding/investment group with a big adherence to stakeholder values. And Vulcan has been pretty transparent in those efforts, which has helped to endear the holding group to the communities it works in and beyond.
For all these reasons and others as well – Vulcan Capital is Family Capital’s Investment Group of the Year 2019.