- Recently added a team member to manage private investments
- Prefers funds where it knows the principals
- Funds backed include Insight Ventures, RRE Ventures and Tiger Global Management
In the 1980s, Jim McCann made his fortune when he took his small floral business and branded it on a national level as 1-800-Flowers, making it one of the first companies to integrate an 800 number into its identity.
“If we weren’t out front on things and thinking two or three steps ahead, we would eventually have been left behind,” he said.
After handing day-to-day operations of that company over to his brother Chris a few years ago, McCann focused on running his family office, Clarim Holdings LLC, as a vehicle through which to encourage more innovation. (Clarim is a combination of McCann’s parents’ names: Claire and Jim.)
“While Chris and I built [1-800-Flowers], we often knew about new technologies early on, and all we would do is say: ‘How can we become a better floral and gift company?’” McCann recalled. “The one thing we were guilty of is not saying: ‘Hey, this is a great technology; let’s invest in it.’”
McCann also found himself in many conversations about how to maintain family wealth — including staffing a family office, developing the next generation of talent within a family, and how to handle philanthropy.
“We thought with Clarim we’d have two pieces, one is the investment side and the second is standing up businesses that would begin to professionalize the answers to those questions,” McCann said.
On the investment side, Clarim makes direct investments and invests in funds. Initially, more money was devoted to funds, but more direct investments are on the horizon.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to be very strong in direct investment, so those will be the exceptions rather than the rule,” he said.
One recent direct investment is Skylark Travel, which McCann said caters to “the next generation of affluent travelers that think online first.”
With funds, Clarim prefers those where it knows the principals. Previous investments include Compound VC, Insight Ventures, RRE Ventures and Tiger Global Management.
Clarim also operates as a holding company. On its website, it bills itself as “a family of companies serving today’s leaders.” Its operating companies include Worth magazine, now called Worth Media, which focuses on affluent people throughout the world; Techonomy, a technology conference company; and Copperfield Advisory, a marketing firm.
Earlier this year, Clarim’s added to its team. Steve Roberts, previously a managing partner at SR Capital Advisers, joined in January to manage Clarim’s private investments. The other key team member is Paul Stamoulis, senior managing director and head of Clarim Holdings.
McCann expressed interest in co-investing with other family offices. “It’s more and more becoming apparent to us that those opportunities are real and distinct,” he said.