The Brief | November 20, 2018

Getting over Amazon, Beyond Meat’s IPO, how to fire your advisor (and hire a new one), OPIC backs Global Partnerships

The team at


Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Signal: Ahead of the Curve

After Amazon, jilted cities mobilize for inclusive growth. Now that Amazon’s beauty pageant is finally over, runners-up like Birmingham, Kansas City, Baltimore and 200 other cities can move ahead on their own. “Take half the energy and half the capital you are willing to devote to Amazon and put it towards your startup sector—that will bear far greater fruit over the next 10 to 20 years,” says Steve Case, the AOL cofounder turned Rise of the Rest venture capitalist. “Thank God,” Beacon Economics’ Christopher Thornberg told the Los Angeles Times when L.A. was passed over for Amazon’s new headquarters. Economic development, he said is “best done by helping existing businesses grow, and by building more housing and infrastructure.” One point of discussion: the whopping incentives (some $5.5 billion) committed to attract the e-commerce giant. Some alternative ideas:

  • Build your own Amazons. More than three-quarters of venture capital funding goes to California, New York and Massachusetts. Steve Case’s Revolution and Forbes identified 10 rising cities for startups across a range of entrepreneurship, education and cost of living metrics. The top three: Columbus, St. Louis and Atlanta.
  • Repurpose plans. “Every city that competed for Amazon HQ2 should quickly determine how their pitch can convert to a purposeful strategy for Opportunity Zones,” suggests Brookings Institution’s Bruce Katz. Katz’s 10-point plan includes creating investment perspectives to showcase investable projects and supporting local entrepreneurs and developers to access capital and technical assistance.
  • Place-based investing. Long before Amazon promised a corporate windfall to the lucky winner, local leaders were nurturing entrepreneurial ecosystems in cities and towns across the U.S. In Louisville, Access Ventures is helping small-business entrepreneurs get the right type of capital at the right time. In Nashville, Launch Tennessee is helping entrepreneurs connect to investors, mentors and larger businesses. Meet all of ImpactAlpha’s New Revivalists.
  • Experiment with policy. “There’s no conventional wisdom on how to address these issues,” writes Neil Irwin in The New York Times. Among the key ingredients: investments in digital skills and connectivity, access to business capital, university upgrades, wage subsidies and immigration policy overhaul.

Read, “After Amazon, jilted cities mobilize for inclusive growth,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Beyond Meat files for a sustainable-protein IPO. Private investors have been pouring capital into the “alternative meat” sector. Beyond Meat, known for its “bloody” vegetarian burger, will test the public market. The California-based firm will list on Nasdaq as BYND, according to its federal filing. Its planned $100 million raise is modest, given that the company has raised more than $100 million in backing from celebrities like Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio and major producers like Tyson Foods. Obvious Ventures owns a 10% stake. Take a bite.

Fluidly raises £5 million to help small businesses manage their money. Small businesses are the economic and job creation engines of the U.S. and U.K. Yet most don’t survive to their fifth birthday. London-based Fluidly makes machine-learning software for cashflow forecasting and management. The female-run startup is addressing a problem that was overdue for tech disruption, say its investors. New-York based Nyca Partners, Octopus Ventures, Anthemis and angel investors backed Fluidly’s Series A round. Here’s more.

OPIC commits $50 million for Global Partnerships’ base-of-the-pyramid fund. The U.S. development finance institution agreed to invest in impact investor Global Partnerships’ Impact-First Development Fund. The fund aims to advance products and services for low-income customers that “commercial markets fail to support.” OPIC will invest via its 2X initiative, which is focused on women’s economic inclusion and impact. Keep reading.

Impact Voices: Pass the Mic

Eight questions to ask when choosing an impact investment advisor. One of the first things many new impact investors do: fire their investment advisors. Then they may have to find a new one. “Impact-oriented investors can now choose from more than 1,000 funds ranging from the broadly focused ESG (environmental, social and governance) to the narrowly thematic, such as sustainable food and farming, carbon reduction or financial inclusion,” write Tiedemann Advisors’ Stephanie Cohn Rupp and Brad Harrison in a guest post on ImpactAlpha. “An advisor versed in the nuances and prerogatives of impact investing can add meaningful value.”

  • Impact-ready. Cohn Rupp and Harrison suggest eight questions to ask prospective advisors, including: Do you integrate impact and financial reporting? What percentage of your assets under management are invested for impact? How do you structure fees and compensation? How do you manage for impact post-investment? “Considering how important a long-term, productive client-advisor relationship is in terms of achieving impact goals,” they write, “investors owe it to themselves to take their time when sizing up prospects.”

Read, “Eight questions to ask when choosing an impact investment advisor,” by Stephanie Cohn Rupp and Brad Harrison on ImpactAlpha.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Kevin Callahan joins Zevin Asset Management as a senior portfolio manager… Maureen Klovers comes on at MPOWER Financing as director of social impact… Nonprofit Just Capital is hiring for a senior sector analyst and other roles in New York.

November 20, 2018.