About Us
Each of us is an entrepreneur.
We’ve walked a mile in your shoes.
           

Ben Black

Managing Director and Co-founder of Akkadian Ventures
Co-founder of the Momentumindex.com

Benjamin Black is the Managing Director & Co-founder of Akkadian Ventures, LLC. An eleven-year veteran of the private equity space, Ben co-founded Akkadian with Peter Smith, to specialize in offering early liquidity to entrepreneurs, early employees, and investors in successful private companies. In 2011, Ben co-founded, with Chris Tarr, the Momentum Index (www.momentumindex.com) which tracks the top performing private venture-backed companies.

With the understanding that it often takes more than ten years for entrepreneurs to achieve liquidity, Akkadian Ventures created unique deal structures for entrepreneurs and employees to generate liquidity and diversify their risk by selling or leveraging private stock. Focusing exclusively on purchasing small stakes in successful growing companies, Akkadian helps innovators manage risk and reap financial reward during that hard climb to the top.

Among many, Ben has managed notable investments in RocketFuel, Splunk, DocuSign, Lithium Technologies, Cloudmark, Ooyala, Citizenhawk, The Villa, Automattic and Telephia. Ben co-founded New Cycle Capital with Josh Becker to bring socially responsible investing to sectors like clean energy and social finance with angel investments in Renewable Funding and Opower. He spent nearly four years at Seattle venture capital firm Maveron, focusing on consumer businesses such as Allconnect (Inc. 500 winner). Prior to Maveron, he spent 3 years at private equity firm Rosewood Capital where he focused on branded consumer products and services, including Under Armour. As an entrepreneur, Ben was part of the founding team at Harris Interactive, which was a pioneer in Internet-based market research. During Ben's tenure, the company completed a successful IPO and generated $200M in revenue.

Ben received his undergraduate degree at Cornell University and his JD at the Cornell School of Law. He is the author of a book on American Politics titled "The Politics of American Discontent" which can be bought on Amazon for $0.12.

Mike Gridley

Managing Director and Partner of Akkadian Ventures

Mike is a Managing Director and Partner of Akkadian Ventures. Previously, he was a member of the founding team of Industry Ventures, where he served as a Managing Director since 2004. Mike led Industry's investments in Facebook (FB), Twitter, Pandora (P), LifeLock (LOCK), Jajah (Acquired by Telefonica), Cloudmark, Lowercase Capital (Twitter, Uber, Instagram), Walden Venture Capital (Pandora, Glam, SoundHound) and Madrona (Isilon), among others. He also helped grow Industry Ventures from less then $10 million AUM to over $1 billion AUM.

Prior to Industry, Mike worked at BV Capital (formerly Bertelsmann Ventures) in San Francisco, a $275 million international venture capital fund. At BV, he sourced, structured, and managed direct venture investments. Earlier in his career, Mike worked in Business Development at Personify, a CRM analytics software company.

Mike holds a BA from University of California, Berkeley, where he was a Regents and Alumni Scholar, and an MS from the London School of Economics.

Peter Smith

Managing Director and Co-founder of Akkadian Ventures

Co-founder of Akkadian, Peter practiced corporate securities law previously at Cooley LLP, Morrison and Foerster LLP, and Bryan Cave HRO LLP. He focused on venture capital financing, private equity, M&A, securities law compliance, corporate governance, equity compensation as well as commercial agreement negotiation and preparation.

As an entrepreneur, Peter spent over three years as the COO of a real estate development company specializing in large mixed-use projects.

He received his BA, cum laude, from Cornell University and his JD from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the State Bar of California and the State Bar of Colorado.

Chris Tarr

CTO of Akkadian Ventures and the MomentumIndex.com

Chris is a serial entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CTO of Momentum Index and was a co-founder and Board Member of OnRequest Images, a Seattle-based custom photography logistics automation company. Previously, he co-founded and was CTO of Expede, Inc., a software consulting and training firm which was acquired by Valtech SA, in 1999. Prior to this, Chris was Vice President of Research and Development for ObjectSpace, Inc. and held senior technical roles at Convex Computer Corporation and AT&T Bell Laboratories. Chris holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.

Craig Nolan

Principal

Craig Nolan is a principal at Akkadian Ventures. He focuses primarily on due diligence for prospective transactions and also assists in sourcing and execution.

Prior to Akkadian, Mr. Nolan was a director at Arcstone Parters, a leading valuation firm. Arcstone's clients included some of the world's leading private companies. Mr. Nolan has researched and valued countless companies for transactional and regulatory purposes. His experience encompasses entities of virtually every size and industry, with an emphasis on fast-growing private companies supported by institutional venture capital and private equity funds. At Arcstone, Craig helped establish Arcstone Equity Research, a research firm that served the direct secondary marketplace.

Mr. Nolan earned an MBA and BS from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and is a CFA charterholder.

Michael Tanne

Akkadian Advisor - Principal of Endeavor Group

Michael has been creating and leading software ventures for over 15 years. He is currently Principal of Endeavor Group, which launches and invests in new technology ventures. Previously, Michael was Founder and CEO of XDegrees, a leader in distributed access to enterprise file systems (acquired by Microsoft, 2002). Earlier, he was Founder and VP, Bus Dev of AdForce, a highly successful Internet ad-serving provider that went public in 1999. In 1992, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Michael helped entrepreneurs create technology companies as Assistant Director of the Center for Emerging Technology Enterprises in Warsaw, Poland.

Michael is a Founder and Board Member of Full Circle Fund, a Bay Area non-profit that engages emerging business leaders in philanthropy through grants and hands-on assistance to promising organizations.

Michael holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alberta and an MBA from Stanford University.

Robert Bailey

Akkadian Advisor - CEO DataSift

Rob Bailey has 15 years of experience building high tech, mobile, and local businesses. During his career, Rob has built more than $400 million in enterprise value and strategic business development relationships with companies that have included: Viacom, Netgear, AT&T, Rogers Cable, Toys R' Us, and Televisa. He is currently CEO of DataSift, the leader in big data state-of-the-art social data-filtering technology. Before DataSift Rob was Vice President of Business Development for SimpleGeo (acquired by Urban Airship) and eScene Networks (acquired by Inktomi).

Rob has extensive international experience, including four years at Yahoo! as a business development lead in broadband and mobile and two years as a strategy and marketing lead for Banamex, the #1 bank in Mexico. He serves as a strategic advisor to Softtech VC (venture capital), CloudCrowd (crowdsourcing), Liquor.com (spirits industry agency), and GroupeBuy (SMB group-buying). Rob is also passionate about restaurants and invested in Circa Restaurant and DK Marketing, which helped launch over 50 restaurants and lounges.

Rob received his BA from Brown University in 1993 and his MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999 where he received the top award in his class for Leadership and Academic Achievement.

Blake Winchell

Akkadian Advisor - Partner Ventures

For the past 30 years, Blake has focused on private equity investments with Leucadia National Corporation, the Channel Investment Group, Generation Ventures, The Fremont Group and Partner Ventures. In addition to his role as Managing Director of Partner Ventures, Blake is the Managing General Partner of Fremont Ventures, the private equity growth-capital fund of the Fremont Group. Fremont Ventures was named by EETimes as one of the top 10 venture capital firms in the US for adding value to portfolio companies.

Blake joined Bain & Company in 1978, and was one of the founders of the San Francisco Bain office. In 1983, he joined the Brae Corporation division of Leucadia National Corporation (NYSE - LUK) as Vice President of Strategic Planning, and subsequently founded and managed the acquisition group for Leucadia.

Blake graduated from Dartmouth College in 1975 with high honors in English and Economics as a Rufus Choate Scholar where he was awarded the Henley Economics Award. He received his MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 1979 and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Ron Hirson

Akkadian Advisor - Founder of Boku and EIR at Khosla Ventures and Mayfield

Ron Hirson is an entrepreneurial executive who was most recently co-founder, President at BOKU, where his responsibilities included creating and managing the BOKU product/service, go-to-market plan, marketing, public relations, business development and corporate development. He has served as the company's spokesperson and has been interviewed/quoted or a guest on Bloomberg, Forbes, Fox News, NYT, TechCrunch, Reuters, WSJ, etc. BOKU was most recently named Forbes' #2 most promising company and for the second year to Wall Street Journal's Top 50 Start-Ups.

Previously, he served as Vice President of Product Management at AT&T Interactive, and was responsible for Product Development, UI design, HCI and the priorities and specification of the company's new and existing products and features that generated $1B in revenue annually.

Prior to the acquisition of Ingenio by AT&T, Ron served as Vice President of Product Management where he led the product management team for Ingenio. He began his career as a management consultant with Price Waterhouse.

During the "dotcom" days, he was CEO and co-founder of The Digs Network, Inc., which was acquired by iDrive.com. Ron holds a BA from UCLA where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa.

Ron is an inventor on 25 issued patents and 140 filed patents.

Mark Britto

Akkadian Advisor - Founder of Boku

Mark Britto serves as the Chief Executive Officer of BOKU, Inc. With over 20 years as an entrepreneur, sales and financial services executive, he is responsible for making BOKU the leading mobile payments platform.

He previously served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Ingenio Inc. Prior to Ingenio, he served as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Services, Sales and Business Development of Amazon.com where he was responsible for landmark deals with national brands such as Toys R Us, Borders Books, Circuit City and Target. He joined Amazon.com in June 1999 as part of the acquisition of Accept.com, which he Co-Founded in October 1998 and served as its Vice President.

He began his career in senior credit and risk management roles at leading national banks FirstUSA and Bank of America. From 1994 to 1998, Mr. Britto served as an Executive Vice President of Credit Policy at FirstUSA Bank. Prior to FirstUSA Bank, he served as Senior Vice President of Risk Management of Nations Bank.

He serves as the Chairman and Director of Internet REIT Inc. He serves as a Director of Smarter Agent, PayNearMe, and Virtual Paper. He has been a Director of Angie's List, Inc. since September 2011. He served as a Member of Advisory Board at ALI Solutions, Inc. (formerly Austin Logistics Incorporated) and Jumio Inc.

Mr. Britto studied M.S. in Operations Research and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations from the University of California at Berkeley.

Mark Perutz

Akkadian Advisor - DBL Investors

Mark Perutz is a Partner at DBL Investors. Previously he was an investment professional at JPMorgan helping to manage the Bay Area Equity Fund from 2003 through the spin-out of the Bay Area Equity Fund from JPMorgan and the founding of DBL Investors in January 2008. He is on the board of Revolution Foods and has worked with the following portfolio companies: Primus Power, Solaria, SolarCity, Tesla Motors, Pow-erLight, eMeter, Solexant, Labcyte, XDx, Bentek and ReShape.

Previously, Mark was an equity research analyst at Robertson Stephens. At Robertson, Mark focused on the enterprise software sector, where his area of coverage included companies such as: BEA Systems, Ink-tomi, Documentum, Interwoven, BroadVision, Allaire, SilverStream, Iona, Persistence and iManage. Mark has also worked in business development at Interwoven, a web content management company; performed technology and market research at the Tower Group; and built computer systems as a systems integration consultant for Accenture.

Mark received a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and received a MBA from the Sloan School of Business at MIT.