Emerging manager Maverix adds fresh talent, including HIG Capital’s Wasserman

Maverix's $500m debut tech growth equity fund, recently anchored by five institutional LPs, is now heading for a $350m initial close in June.

Maverix Private Equity, founded by ex-OMERS Ventures chief executive John Ruffolo, added to its senior bench after raising anchor capital for a $500 million inaugural tech growth equity fund.

Maverix told affiliate title Buyouts it recruited two members to its investment team, as well as a high-profile appointment to its advisory board.

Among the hires is Michael Wasserman (pictured above), who was previously a managing director of HIG Capital. For 17 years, he was a top executive with HIG BioHealth Partners, a life sciences platform, where he focused on investing in digital health and medical devices. He will remain a senior advisor to HIG.

Before HIG, Wasserman was a life sciences operator and a principal with Innovations Foundation.

Wasserman joins Maverix as a managing partner, bringing the total number to three. The others are Ruffolo and Mark Maybank, formerly the president and chief operating officer of Canaccord Genuity Corp.

In addition, the Toronto growth equity investor recruited Peter Hass, previously a director of Mattamy Asset Management and an associate with OMERS Growth Equity. He becomes an associate partner, investments.

Maverix, which remains in hiring mode, also brought on Jonathan Goodman, chief executive of Knight Therapeutics, as an adviser. Goodman is well known in the healthcare industry for the 2014 sale of his prior business, Paladin Labs, to Endo Health for $2.95 billion.

All about disruption

Ruffolo, who founded OMERS Ventures in 2011, launched Maverix two years ago to make significant minority growth investments in tech-enabled companies in Canada and the US. It will typically write checks of $50 million to $75 million or more in businesses with revenue of $10 million to $100 million-plus.

Key to the strategy is the potential for Maverix-backed companies to disrupt traditional industries with little-or-no tech exposure and reshape competitive dynamics.

“Our thesis is if you don’t adopt technological innovation, you will die,” Ruffolo told Buyouts.

John Ruffolo, Maverix Private Equity

The debut of Maverix is timely in light of digital acceleration sparked by covid-19. A recent McKinsey and Company survey found the health crisis to be “a tipping point of historic proportions” in tech adoption, speeding up by several years the digitalization of businesses across sectors and regions.

Maverix will begin by targeting opportunities in health and wellness and financial services. These industries, Ruffolo said, have been “held back from innovation” by regulation and other factors but “are now being released.” The firm will also source deal flow in retail, transportation and logistics and other spaces.

Wasserman will lead Maverix’s investing in health and wellness alongside partner Eric Hoskins, a former Ontario government minister of health. Maybank will stickhandle financial services investing with the support of Ruffolo.

Health-and-wellness deals will touch on such themes as patient engagement and site-of-service, including “the delivery of healthcare outside the four walls of a hospital,” Wasserman said. Opportunities will also be explored in affiliated sectors, such as agriculture tech and food tech.

Most Maverix platform investments are expected to be made in Canada’s tech ecosystem, with the aim of turning fast-growing local and North American market players into global ones. A first deal is anticipated in the months ahead, Ruffolo said.

Fund I’s initial close

Maverix Growth Equity Fund I was in April anchored with commitments from Bank of Montreal, British Columbia Investment Management Corp, CAAT Pension Plan, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Mattamy. It is now heading for a $350 million first close in June, Ruffolo said.

Maverix will continue marketing to Canadian limited partners, Ruffolo said, as well as US and global LPs, “who are already coming to us.”

North American tech fundraising was robust in the first quarter. Along with incumbent firms, activity this year is expected to be driven by such emerging managers as Maverix.

Maverix’s plans for an inaugural offering were upset last fall when Ruffolo, an avid cyclist, was involved in a near-fatal traffic accident. Sustaining severe injuries, he underwent surgery and painstaking physiotherapy, allowing him to return to his firm and the fundraising trail.

Ruffolo’s story has inspired many, including Wasserman, who calls him “a force of nature.”

Knight’s Goodman, who was also almost killed in a 2011 cycling accident, said he joined Maverix, and invested in Fund I, mostly because of Ruffolo’s example. “I wanted to work with him to show people that the human spirit is stronger than any accident in life.”