Erin Harkless Moore has always been interested in mathematics. So she headed to Wall Street. “It was intoxicating in some ways and incredibly fast,” she recalls. She apparently enjoyed that life as well, considering she worked there for nearly two decades before becoming an investment advisor at Cambridge Associates.
Then, three years ago, Melinda French Gates Crucial Businesses called, wanting Harkless Moore to lead the company’s investment strategy. “I literally pinched myself,” Harkless Moore told TechCrunch. “I was looking for an opportunity that would bring together investment in fund managers, women-led funds, and diverse-led funds from the start, and that would align with this mission of impact.”
Part venture fund, part philanthropic organization, Pivotal Ventures was launched in 2015 and uses grants, partnerships, advocacy strategies and investments to support founders and nonprofits. With a Billion-dollar commitment from French Gates, the firm has adopted a data-driven approach to investing, with the primary goal of positioning more women, particularly those of color, in decision-making roles. This includes investing in care to enable women to achieve a better work-life balance, advocating for federally paid family leave, encouraging more women to study entrepreneurship and supporting women in public office.
So far, it has backed investment platform Ellevest, healthcare services company OndeCare and health advisory platform Tia, according to PitchBook. Harkless Moore said the care economy is a major priority for Pivotal. “It’s a $648 billion market, and it’s ripe for innovation.” Pivotal is also a limited partner in funds such as Magnify Ventures and Leadout Capital, and provides support to help these emerging funds grow.
To dig deeper into Pivotal’s long-term strategy, we recently sat down with Harkless Moore to discuss more about her goals, how data can improve social impact investing, and how she expects Technology helps where government fails.