Harvard Management’s Melinda Barber returns to a family office

  • Barber moves to Pilot House Ventures
  • Pilot House invests in early tech companies
  • Harvard Management restructures operations

After nearly six years on the private equity team at Harvard Management Co, Melinda Barber is moving back to a family office. She is expected to join Pilot House Ventures, the family office of billionaire Amos Hostetter Jr.

Harvard Management manages the $37.1 billion endowment of Harvard University and had a 20 percent PE allocation as of 2016, according to presentations.

Barber was promoted this year to a managing director position at Harvard Management. Her departure from the private equity group at Harvard Management follows the departure of Richard Hall earlier in the year.

Hall, who oversaw Harvard Management’s PE portfolio, is now deputy chief investment officer at University of Texas Investment Management Co.

Before joining Harvard Management, Barber headed the private portfolio at Raptor Group Holdings, the private investment company backed by Jim Pallotta’s family office.

Barber also serves on the board of the Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship at the Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College.

Pilot House’s Hostetter Jr. made his fortune as a pioneer in cable TV. In 1996, he sold his Continental Cablevision to US West for $11 billion. He is well known in Boston for philanthropy through his Barr Foundation and his support for charter schools and the Boston waterfront.

Pilot House invests in early-stage tech companies in the areas of network infrastructure, internet and enterprise software. Most of its investments are in the range of $2 million to $4 million. Pilot House also takes board seats at the companies.

At Pilot House, Barber will join fellow investment professionals Stephen Van Beaver, general partner, and John Vander Vort, managing director.

Harvard Management is restructuring its operations, according to Nirmal Narvekar, who became its CEO in late 2016. This involves trimming the size of its 230-member team, shutting down the relative value and equity platforms, repositioning the credit platform, and spinning out the real estate platform, according to the January and September 2017 letters by Narvekar.

Harvard Management also executed a secondary sale of its private equity and real estate portfolios to reduce exposure, Narvekar said in his letter.

The Harvard endowment has posted dismal results in the past few years. It lost 2 percent in 2016 and returned 8.1 percent on its investments in 2017. In comparison, its peer Dartmouth College posted a return of 14.3 percent in 2017.

Emails to Harvard Management were not answered.

Action Item: http://www.hmc.harvard.edu/docs/Final_Annual_Report_2017.pdf

Picture sourced from Melinda Barber’s LinkedIn page