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MassMutual Doubles Down on Tech Investments

Establishing a connection to Silicon Valley, the life insurance company is pouring an additional $100 million into its venture fund.

  • Julie Segal

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. has allocated an additional $100 million to MassMutual Ventures, bringing the firm’s in-house corporate venture capital fund to $200 million in total assets under management.

The insurance company launched MassMutual Ventures, which is funded by its general account, in July 2014 to invest in financial technology, insurance technology, big data, and cybersecurity companies. The fund can invest in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Israel.

“We want to back businesses where we’ll see good returns, but the mandate was designed to get closer to the innovation happening in our industry,” says Doug Russell, managing director and head of the fund.

Russell, who worked in the venture capital business early in his career, spearheaded the creation of the fund when he was running strategy and corporate development for MassMutual. Russell explains that the venture fund is seeking companies that have the potential to disrupt or even completely change the insurance, asset management, brokerage, and other related industries.

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The additional money gives MassMutual Ventures the ability to make investments in 20 to 25 companies over the next four to five years. Along with the $100 million allocation, the venture fund has hired Marybeth Egan as an associate to source and conduct due diligence for new investments. Egan was previously an associate at KKR Prisma.

Russell says the fund won’t know whether its investments have met return targets for eight to ten years. But by other measures, the group has already been successful. So far, Russell and his team have introduced more than 200 companies, some of which they’ve invested in, to MassMutual and its subsidiaries, including OppenheimerFunds and Barings.

The fund’s current portfolio consists of 20 investments representing approximately $80 million in invested and reserved capital. Among others, MassMutual Ventures has backed Ledger Investing, a start-up that aims to be an alternative to the reinsurance market; Insurify, an online car insurance comparison service; and RiskIQ, a cybersecurity firm.