CPPIB recruits Facebook’s Monica Adractas to lead VC funds strategy

She helped launch Facebook's Workplace in 2016 and for nearly three years served as a global director.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has recruited Monica Adractas to head the pension fund’s newly minted venture capital funds program.

Adractas joins CPPIB from Workplace, the business collaboration app of social networking giant Facebook. She helped launch Workplace in 2016 and for nearly three years served as a global director.

Over a two-decade career, Adractas held other senior roles with an innovation focus, including at cloud content manager Box, consulting firm McKinsey and coffee retailer Starbucks. She also founded One Shared Mind Ventures, a San Mateo-based investor and advisory firm for tech or tech-enabled companies in enterprise applications and consumer spaces.

Adractas will now take charge of CPPIB’s recently unveiled VC program, which reportedly aims to invest up to $1 billion in North American and European funds. She will be responsible for further developing and implementing the program, as well as identifying potential fund partners and making and managing commitments.

Adractas will operate from San Francisco, where CPPIB earlier this year established an office to source investment opportunities and deepen relationships in the region’s high-profile innovation ecosystem.

In a statement released last week, President and CEO Mark Machin said the new location is a “significant step” in the pension fund’s growth strategy and efforts to “better understand” the impact of technology and data on its overall portfolio.

The office in San Francisco, CPPIB’s second in the United States after New York, is currently being staffed. Along with Adractas, its first employees will include existing investment pros transferred from the direct private equity, thematic investing, PE funds and portfolio value creation groups.

CPPIB’s VC program has already committed capital to a handful of funds, among them Canadian artificial intelligence VC firm Radical Ventures. Earlier this year, CPPIB, PSP Investments and other limited partners made a cornerstone investment in Radical’s new $350-million fund.

CPPIB also backed Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund II, the second VC fund of funds of Canadian private-markets investor Northleaf Capital Partners. NVCF II wrapped up in mid-2019 with total commitments of C$300 million ($226 million).

Toronto-based CPPIB, which invests on behalf of Canada’s public retirement system, oversaw assets of more than C$400 billion at the end of June.

VC’s growing pension power

CPPIB is among several large Canadian pension funds that are rapidly developing or expanding their VC programs.

They include Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which this year unveiled its Teachers’ Innovation Platform to make late-stage VC and growth equity investments in tech companies.

TIP subsequently closed its inaugural deal, investing in SpaceX, a Hawthorne, California-based advanced rockets and spacecraft maker founded by U.S. entrepreneur Elon Musk.