Blythe Masters, Financial Blockchain Pioneer, Joins Private Equity Firm

Motive Partners names the former Digital Asset CEO an industry partner, along with Accenture veteran Richard Lumb

Friday, December 20, 2019

By Jeffrey Kutler


Blythe Masters, a longtime JPMorgan bank executive who became CEO of financial industry blockchain venture Digital Asset Holdings, has joined private equity firm Motive Partners as an industry partner.

The financial-technology-focused investment platform announced Masters' role concurrently with that of Accenture veteran Richard Lumb, also an industry partner, on December 12. They “will focus on thematic strategy development, deal origination, execution and value creation” for portfolio companies, said Motive, which over the past three years has assembled a sizable team of partners and advisers with top-level executive backgrounds.

The New York- and London-based firm in November said it closed its inaugural fund, Motive Capital Fund I (MCFI), at $473 million, and had “six portfolio companies requiring a total of $3 billion of equity from Motive, LP [limited partner] co-investors and broader investor consortia.” Those include multinational banking software provider Avaloq, business data company Dun & Bradstreet, and LMRKTS, which applies optimization technology to reduce counterparty, market and settlement risks. A Motive-led group recently agreed to buy up to 60% of Fiserv's investment services business.

Blythe Masters Headshot
Blythe Masters

With the MCFI closing, Motive brought on Robert Brown as a founding partner and executive committee member. He was previously global co-head of the private funds group at Houlihan Lokey, which was the placement agent for MCFI. A former Carlyle Group and Advent International partner, Brown in 2014 founded BearTooth Advisors, which Houlihan Lokey acquired in 2018.

“We believe that the financial technology opportunity is only just beginning, and the application of Motive's capabilities uniquely positions us to partner with management teams in an effort accelerate the growth potential of portfolio companies,” said Motive founder and managing partner Rob Heyvaert. “Bob has been an exceptional asset to the firm, and his arrival at Motive Partners demonstrates our commitment to build a best in class operation across all functional capabilities.”

“Investors, Operators and Innovators”

Fronted by Heyvaert, who founded consulting firm Capco in 1998, and Wall Street technology executive Stephen Daffron, Motive was officially unveiled in January 2017, coinciding with the annual World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland.

Daffron, who was CEO of Interactive Data Corp. at the time of its sale to Intercontinental Exchange in 2015, is currently serving as president of Dun & Bradstreet and is a Motive industry partner alongside Andy Stewart, formerly of Credit Suisse and BlackRock; former Goldman Sachs co-head of technology Paul Walker; new members Lumb and Masters; and several others.

“Motive's success, both raising MCFI and with the portfolio so far, is the product of our team's ability and experience in identifying long-term, secular growth themes and trends over the last 25 years,” Daffron said in a statement. “Having witnessed it firsthand, it is clear that the combination of investors, operators and innovators with the industry partners and Motive Labs gives a unique perspective for identifying and growing portfolio companies.”

Early Blockchain Leadership

After 27 years with JPMorgan, where her positions included head of global commodities and chief financial officer of the investment bank, Blythe Masters joined the Digital Asset board and became its CEO in March 2015, when financial industry interest was beginning to build in blockchain, or distributed ledger technology (DLT), to upgrade transaction processing and infrastructure. Masters stepped down as CEO in December 2018 but remained a Digital Asset board member and adviser and continued in other activities, including as international advisory board member of Santander Group and advisory board member of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.

Now led by co-founder Yuval Rooz, Digital Asset on December 11 announced a $35 million Series C funding round, bringing its total raised since 2014 to $150 million. The company's project, begun under Masters, to replace Australian Securities Exchange's CHESS clearing and settlement system is one of the highest-profile DLT efforts in financial markets. It is due to be completed in 2021, and ASX is working with Digital Asset and VMware on additional DLT solutions.

Richard Lumb Headshot
Richard Lumb

On December 16, XBourse Global, a new venture of trading and exchange entrepreneur Tony Mackay, said it will be using Digital Assets' DAML open-source smart contract language in digital markets and product development.

Masters said she is “delighted to be joining the Motive Partners platform, which will allow me to add value while spending time on my areas of expertise and passion. In a relatively short period of time, Motive has made great strides, and I look forward to working with the talented team on the future phases of the firm's development.”

Financial Services Oversight

Richard Lumb had a 35-year tenure at Accenture, where from December 2010 to August 2019 he was group chief executive - financial services. Over his nine years on the Accenture global leadership team, the financial services business almost doubled, to $8.5 billion, in revenue, and the market cap of the firm increased about 3.6 times, to $130 billion.

Lumb oversaw FinTech Innovation Lab programs in New York, London and Hong Kong, and led the acquisition of Duck Creek Technologies, a global provider of property and casualty insurance software. In 2016, he completed the partial sale of Duck Creek to funds advised by Apax Partners and was a Duck Creek board member from 2011 to 2019. He continues as a director of financial technology company Finastra.

Lumb co-authored a report, Editing the Uneditable Blockchain, which addressed the challenge of adapting the immutability of blockchain technology to the financial industry's need to correct errors and comply with legal requirements like “the right to be forgotten.” Another report, Bridging the Technology Gap in Financial Services Boardrooms, argued that bank boards need deeper technology insight to set strategy in an increasingly digital world.

“I have had the privilege of working with many established institutions and new innovators to transform the industry,” Lumb said. “My decision to join Motive as an industry partner reflects my continued desire to play a role at the intersection of finance and technology, and I believe the Motive Partners platform, combining deep expertise with capital, will allow me to spend my time most impactfully.”


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