With Bison, Hamilton Lane makes fourth balance-sheet venture investment

  • Hamilton Lane takes minority stake in GP-LP data provider
  • Bison, Hamilton Lane launch Cobalt
  • Hamilton Lane CIO Erik Hirsch sees role for more tech

Hamilton Lane marked its fourth investment from its own balance sheet by paying an undisclosed sum to become the largest private shareholder in financial-technology company Bison.

The Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, money-management firm took part in a Series A round of venture financing for Bison, a provider of fund performance, fundraising and other vital statistics for GPs and LPs. GrandBanks Capital, which led an earlier seed round for Bison, participated in the funding, along with Accomplice. After the transaction, Hamilton Lane emerged as Bison’s largest holder.

It’s a part of a focus by Hamilton Lane Chief Investment Officer Erik Hirsch to weave in more cloud-based applications to grapple with the growing pool of data coming out of the asset class. He didn’t rule out making more venture investments to enhance Hamilton Lane’s fintech offerings.

“I spend a chunk of my time looking at new tech businesses,” Hirsch said in a phone interview. “This is a multitrillion-dollar asset class with thousands of fund managers and an even greater number of LPs operating around the world. We need to stop referring to ourselves as a niche industry and focus on compliance and best practices and the best systems.”

Investors in public equities benefit from many tools for analysis and tracking investments, while in PE most analysis is still done on Excel spreadsheets and working with numbers manually, he said. “We’re starting to change that,” Hirsch said.

Along with investing in the firm, Hamilton Lane also teamed with Bison to launch Cobalt GP to provide tools and intelligence to PE general partners as well as Cobalt LP for institutional investors. Hamilton Lane worked closely with Bison to take its core offering, expand it and tailor it to the analytical needs of LPs and GPs.

Prior to Bison, Hamilton Lane invested in iLevel/Ipreo, a specialist in portfolio monitoring for private capital markets; DealCloud, a software platform offering deal management and workflow services for private market participants; and Black Mountain Systems, a specialist in data aggregation, process management and business reporting.

Action Item: See Cobalt GP: https://www.cobaltgp.com/

Photo of Erik Hirsch courtesy of Hamilton Lane