VC Blackbird appoints 3 new partners

- February 21, 2023 2 MIN READ
Phoebe Harrop, Tom Humphrey, Michael Tolo
Blackbird's new partners Phoebe Harrop, Tom Humphrey and Michael Tolo
Venture capital fund Blackbird has appointed three new general partners from within its own ranks

Moving from principal to partner are  Michael Tolo and Tom Humphrey in Australia, as well as Phoebe Harrop in New Zealand.

It’s just the second time in the 11 years since Rick Baker and Niki Scevak founded Blackbird that the VC has added new partnerships after Samantha Wong and Nick Crocker stepped up in 2018. There are now seven partners plus Tesla chair Robyn Denholm as an operating partner.

Announcing the elevation of his new colleagues, partner Nick Crocker said they are looking for custodians of the Blackbird brand and found them in the trio.

“We are thrilled to welcome Michael Tolo, Tom Humphrey, and Phoebe Harrop to the Blackbird Investing partnership. This is a big moment for Blackbird,” he said.

“When we think about the qualities of being a Blackbird Investing Partner, we think about a defining hunger, bordering on obsession, to invest in generational companies, right at the beginning of their lives,” he said.

All three new joined Blackbird two years ago after global career experience; Tolo was at deep tech firm Playground Global and Australia’s sovereign wealth fund Future Fund, Harrop at Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and Humphrey at Access Ventures and as a senior operator for global-scaling startups such as Kanopy.

They have invested  in startups in health, quantum computing, eCommerce and cyber security since joining as Principals in 2021. Tolo’s investments include PsiQuantum, Carted, The Mintable and Heidi; Humphrey’s backed Forage, Cyble, Checkmate and FL0; and Harrop, VeVe, Carepatron, Excellent and SafeStack.

The partnerships come after Blackbird raised $1 billion for its latest fund last year.

Crocker praised the trio for their achievements at Blackbird thus far.

“Tolo’s investment thinking is of the highest quality, bringing Blackbird into new areas like quantum computing. He has the ability to dig into the details of complex products, understand them and build conviction around those learnings,” he said.

“He can run the gamut of early stage to late stage. His bravery, and his passion, and conviction for the craft of investing inspire us.”

Crocker said Humphrey is a natural leader and “wonderful ambassador” for Blackbird’s values.

“Tom constantly seeks to upgrade the investment team, taking on special projects on top of everything else he does. He has brought all his operating experience to our business and our portfolio, and upgraded the way we think about seeing all the seeds in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.

“His board and founder relationships can withstand all the most difficult moments, and he has built a firehose of quality dealflow that exceeded our lofty expectations, helping us find and invest in companies like Cyble and Spice AI that we would not have seen otherwise.”

Harrop “has supercharged Blackbird’s Aotearoa New Zealand expansion”, Crocker said

“She has been remarkable in coming up with creative ways to build relationships, and make investments, even where the chance of doing so was low. VeVe is a shining example of this,” he said.

“Phoebe has quickly built deep and active referral networks in NZ, and is only just getting started. We have 100% confidence that in any room, Phoebe will hold her own and win people over with her charisma and charm, intellect, storytelling and star power.  We see her as a natural future leader of the NZ team.

The appointments come as Blackbird hunts for a new principal to join its investments team in Auckland under Wong and Harrop.