Alternative Investment

Ballmers investing in Black-led money managers, entrepreneurs

Steve and Connie Ballmer announced a $150 million investment with Goldman Sachs Asset Management and GCM Grosvenor to launch funds of funds focused on Black investment managers and Black entrepreneurs and founders.

The billionaire philanthropists announced the initiative in a blog post on their Ballmer Group website on Oct. 19. Mr. Ballmer was CEO of Microsoft Corp. from 2000 to 2014.

Among the investments is a $100 million initial investment with Goldman Sachs Asset Management, which will launch the Black Equity Opportunities fund. The fund will exclusively invest in Black-led private equity and venture capital funds and aims to raise about $200 million, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman said in an email.

“As a Black professional who has been in the asset management industry for over 20 years, I am aware of the historic undercapitalization of Black founders and realize the true impact investments like these can have on the larger Black investor-entrepreneur ecosystem,” said Marene Jennings, managing director in GSAM’s alternative investments and manager selection group, in an emailed statement. “It is a privilege to partner with Steve and Connie and we hope that this investment leads to a positive change in the industry.”

At least 30% of the underlying portfolio companies in the Black Equity Opportunities fund will be led by Black entrepreneurs and/or founders, according to GSAM.

The Ballmers are also making a commitment of $50 million to a fund-of-funds strategy managed by GCM Grosvenor, which aims to raise about $100 million. A spokesman at that firm could not be immediately reached for further information.

The Ballmers are also investing a total of $250 million in vehicles at Black-owned managers Ariel Investments (for Ariel Alternatives’ Project Black, an initiative to invest in middle-market, minority-owned companies) and Fairview Capital Partners.

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