Backstage Capital Founder Shakes Up Leadership

Founder Arlan Hamilton will focus on raising capital for the venture capital firm.

Arlan Hamilton (Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg)

Arlan Hamilton

(Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg)

Backstage Capital, the venture capital firm that seeks diversity in the founders it backs, has shaken up its leadership after a news report that it hasn’t raised a $36 million fund as quickly as initially expected.

Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital, is stepping back from operational tasks to focus on raising capital, supporting founders, and mentoring the executive team, she said on Twitter Wednesday.

Hamilton said on Twitter that she has promoted Christie Pitts to chief executive officer of Backstage Studios, which she said is the firm’s operations arm. Lolita Taub, a principal at Backstage Capital, said March 19 on Twitter that she is seeking a new role in venture capital.

Axios reported March 19 that Hamilton has not been able to raise the $36 million as quickly as she hoped and that the firm was pivoting away from a venture capital model to an accelerator business strategy.

Backstage’s Pitts announced on March 8 that the firm has launched Backstage Accelerator with 25 companies. The firm is still raising capital, Hamilton said on Twitter Wednesday.

She said she aimed to set straight any misrepresentation about the firm.

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“First, I do not categorize anything Backstage has accomplished in our short time in existence as a ‘failure’ or ‘misstep,’” Hamilton said in a tweet. “There have been more disappointments than I can count, from millionaires and billionaires making promises that they later take back, to personal loss.”

According to a tweet from Pitts, the decision for Hamilton to transition to CEO of Backstage Studios was finalized last week.

“What I am going to now be and do, is somewhat of a brand ambassador and a chief vision officer,” Hamilton said on the podcast episode Wednesday. “I am toying with the title chief smooth operator. It doesn’t roll off the tongue, but it makes me happy, and this is what this is all about.”

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Backstage says on its website that less than 10 percent of all venture capital deals go to women, people of Color, and LGBT founders, creating a big investment opportunity for the firm.

As for its investors, some seem satisfied with what Backstage Capital has been able to achieve so far.

“I’m a happy LP!” said Backstage investor Sahil Lavingia via email Wednesday. “I think Arlan is awesome, doing a really hard much-needed thing, and I’m excited to see how things play out.”

Another investor, Rand Fishkin said via email: “I’m very proud of what Backstage has achieved, excited for their future, and would 100% invest in Arlan and her team again.”

A spokesperson for Hamilton did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.

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