The Brief | October 17, 2018

Ode to intermediaries, beyond the metrics myth, streamlining urban mobility, equity crowdfunding acquisition, COCAP before SOCAP

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Featured: ImpactAlpha Voices

A paean to the unsung intermediaries who put the pieces together for impact. Middlemen – and women – get a bad rap. But when it comes to putting impact deals together, intermediaries deserve as much credit, recognition, and praise as name-brand funders and investors. It’s the advisory firms, fund managers and NGOs that often come up with financing structures, develop them over many years, bring funders together, establish governance structures – and bring concepts to market. In transactions that blend public, philanthropic, and private capital, writes Convergence’s Dean Segell on ImpactAlpha, “intermediaries are the glue that makes these very hard transactions actually happen.”

Segell tips his hat to Aligned Intermediary for helping to organize the new Climate Finance Partnership that involves France, Germany and BlackRock, along with the Hewlett, Grantham and IKEA foundations. Instiglio and Palladium put together a pair of development impact bonds targeting girls education and maternal health. Guarantees for infrastructure projects and cross-currency swaps were developed by Private Infrastructure Development Group and Cardano Development, respectively. “Intermediaries are superheroes,” Segell writes. He calls on donors and development finance institutions that rely on intermediaries to play a larger role in supporting their efforts. “If we’re going to mobilize the private sector and go from billions to trillions to support sustainable development, we need to start giving intermediaries the recognition and support they deserve.”

Read, “A paean to the unsung intermediaries who put the pieces together for impact,” by Dean Segell on ImpactAlpha.

ImpactAlpha Series: Measure Better

Jed Emerson on getting beyond ‘the metrics myth.’ Jed Emerson has been waiting for the impact measurement conversation to catch up. Whether it has or not, well, you know Jed. Emerson introduced “social return on investment” in the mid-1990s and debated impact measurement until about 2015, when he penned ‘The Metrics Myth” (that is, that anybody was doing any meaningful measurement after all) and left the stage. Emerson is back, with a new book, The Purpose of Capital, and at least a glimmer of hope for new approaches like Acumen’s Lean Data. In the next post in ImpactAlpha’s Measure Better series, Emerson says Lean Data has lowered the costs and timelines of impact measurement. Such technology, combined with the new mindset that clients and communities are customers, Emerson says results in “even higher quality data because it’s controlled by the voice of the consumer and the community resident.”

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Coord raises $5 million to streamline city mobility. The New York-based data company is aiming to improve urban mobility. Coord, a spinoff of Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs, has developed tools that help ride-service drivers find legal stopping zones for pick-up, for example. A group of investors including Alliance Ventures, Trucks, Urban.Us and DB Digital Ventures backed the company’s $5 million Series A round. Coord is integrating data from private transit services and public infrastructure. Learn more.

Land Life raises $4 million to plant trees in arid soils. The Amsterdam-based startup has raised a €3.5 million ($4 million) Series A round to reforest degraded land. Roughly two billion hectares of land have been degraded globally, mostly through industrial and agricultural activity. Land Life has developed a low-water incubator for seedlings. It partners with companies that use tree planting projects to offset their carbon footprints. The Series A round was backed by the foundation of legendary investor and outspoken climate advocate Jeremy Grantham, founder of asset management firm GMO. Dig in.

Vermont Innovation Commons acquires equity crowdfunding platform Milk Money. The startup hub in Burlington, Vermont, is acquiring the crowdfunding investment platform to widen local entrepreneurs’ access to capital. Milk Money was started in 2014 to take advantage of a state law that allows any Vermonter over the age of 18 to invest in local startups. The platform’s acquisition by Vermont Innovation Commons—a project of impact investment firm Vermont Works—will support local businesses’ access to financing and other services like co-working space and mentorship. Read on.

Please send deal news and tips to [email protected].

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Nonprofit Finance Fund’s Antony Bugg-Levine will chat by the fireside with Beeck Center’s Lisa Hall about impact investing in the age of populism, tomorrow at Georgetown University… Closing the racial wealth gap is the theme of this year’s COCAP (register now) in Oakland Oct. 22… OpenInvest is hiring an account executive in San Francisco.

October 17, 2018.