Former Apollo and BlackRock execs launch new VC firm

Braven, an early-stage investor, is led by William Abecassis, founder and former head of BlackRock's Innovation Capital venture group.

The former head of BlackRock’s venture unit has teamed up with a co-founder of Apollo Global Management to launch a new VC firm called Braven.

The New York-based firm, which will focus on early-stage investments, is described as a “joint venture” with 26North, the newly launched alternative asset firm led by Apollo co-founder Josh Harris. As part of the collaboration, 26North has made an undisclosed equity investment in Braven.

Braven is led by William Abecassis, founder and former head of BlackRock’s Innovation Capital venture group. “The firm invests where deep scientific and technical innovation is transforming the large, regulated industries that underpin society, such as finance, healthcare, defense, and industrial infrastructure,” Braven said in a statement.

Venture Capital Journal sought comment from 26North, but had not heard back as of press time.

The statement notes that, “The joint venture enables close collaboration between Braven’s portfolio companies and 26North’s platform, which currently includes private equity, credit, insurance and reinsurance solutions. 26North’s platform and portfolio companies will also provide a unique opportunity for accelerated product validation and commercial traction to Braven investments.”

26North, which has $9.5 billion in assets under management, was launched by Harris in September. He stepped down from his day-to-day role at Apollo in May 2021, but continues to serve on Apollo’s board, Apollo said.

Besides Harris, the 26North team includes Lance West, former Centerbridge and Goldman Sachs partner; Brendan McGovern, former head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s private credit group; Evan Zemsky, former Apollo managing director; and Tina Raja, former Blackstone managing director.

“We believe there are large, underserved opportunities to earn outsized financial returns while having exponential impact on globally important industries,” Abecassis said in the statement. “Today’s dominant VC model works for independent disruptors, but it isn’t built to help innovators in complex, regulated industries who need to collaborate and coordinate with many critical stakeholders. We’ve engineered a model of deep, active engagement with portfolio companies in which Braven and partners such as 26North provide the expertise, relationships and resources needed to effectively engage their industries’ ecosystems.”