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The 2015 Fintech Finance 35: James Robinson III and James Robinson IV, RRE Ventures

No. 1

Robinson III &
Robinson IV
General Partner & Managing Partner
RRE Ventures

When RRE Ventures was new, in 1994, so was the commercial Internet. The firm easily commandeered as its web address and became a fixture in New York City’s venture capital community, which at the time was not nearly in the same league as Boston and Silicon Valley. But New York had something those locales didn’t: a concentration of large corporations, including financial industry giants, with growing appetites for innovation. And RRE had James Robinson III, who retired as chairman and CEO of American Express Co. in 1993 and could both open doors to the Fortune 500 and arrange introductions to technology entrepreneurs with whom he was getting acquainted as an angel investor. Robinson, whose 80th birthday is November 19, raised the investment stakes with RRE, which he, as general partner, co-founded with two managing partners: his son James Robinson IV and Stuart Ellman. James IV and Ellman, now 53 and 49, respectively, were Harvard Business School classmates who started a company that developed a touch-screen ordering system for stadiums that was ten years ahead of its time. Their timing as leaders of RRE’s nine-member investment team has vastly improved. The portfolio is a diversified set of technology, media and consumer plays, including such fintech disrupters as online lender OnDeck Capital, financial management service NerdWallet and a host of Bitcoin/blockchain investments, directly and through a relationship with Digital Currency Group (see Barry Silbert, No. 13). RRE has also invested in Ellman’s specialty of robotics (Jibo) and in space (Spaceflight Industries and Spire Global). “Most everything we look at has a 20-year gestation — we’re even seeing that in digital currency,” says James IV, underscoring the long view and patient perspective informing the firm’s more than $1.5 billion in investments. “If all you do is chase what’s hot, you’ll go wrong.” His father admits to pooh-poohing cryptocurrency, then “doing a 180,” in part thanks to Adam Ludwin, who worked at RRE from 2010 until early 2014. Ludwin co-founded Chain, a blockchain start-up now working closely with, among others, Nasdaq and First Data Corp., a company James III acquired while at American Express. RRE backed Ludwin early, and in September, James III joined Chain’s board.

The 2015 Fintech Finance 35

1. James Robinson III
& James Robinson IV
RRE Ventures
2. Jane Gladstone
Evercore Partners
3. Matthew Harris
Bain Capital Ventures
4. Steven McLaughlin
Financial Technology Partners
5. Jonathan Korngold
General Atlantic
6. Richard Garman &
Brad Bernstein
FTV Capital
7. Amy Nauiokas & Sean Park
Anthemis Group
8. Thomas Jessop
Goldman Sachs Group
9. Meyer (Micky) Malka
Ribbit Capital
10. Hans Morris
Nyca Partners
11. Maria Gotsch
Partnership Fund for New York City
12. Marc Andreessen
Andreessen Horowitz
13. Barry Silbert
Digital Currency Group
14. Jay Reinemann
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria
15. Mariano Belinky
Santander InnoVentures
16. François Robinet
AXA Strategic Ventures
17. Vanessa Colella
Citi Ventures
18. Alan Freudenstein & Gregory Grimaldi
Credit Suisse
19. Justin Brownhill & Neil DeSena
SenaHill Partners
20. Rodger Voorhies
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
21. Michael Schlein
Accion International
22. Kenneth Marlin
Marlin & Associates
23. Rumi Morales
CME Ventures
24. Mark Beeston
Illuminate Financial Management
25. Vladislav Solodkiy
26. Fabian Vandenreydt
Innotribe SWIFT
27. Derek White
28. Alex Batlin
29. Jeffrey Greenberg
& Vincenzo
La Ruffa
Aquiline Capital Partners
30. P. Howard Edelstein
REDI Holdings
31. Nektarios Liolios
Startupbootcamp FinTech
32. Roy Bahat
Bloomberg Beta
33. Andrew McCormack
Valar Ventures
34. Lawrence Wintermeyer
Innovate Finance
35. Janos Barberis
FinTech Hong Kong

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