As announced on January 15, OMERS Ventures has opened a Silicon Valley office with veteran capital veteran Michael Yang leading the expansion!
Michael got his start in venture capital with the trans-Atlantic firm, Atlas Venture, investing in enterprise IT start-ups in New England. He was most recently a long-time Silicon Valley-based partner for Comcast Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Comcast/NBCUniversal, where he invested in ecommerce and emerging tech sectors (health tech, VR/AR, IoT, drones & autonomous mobility). He’s worked at big tech companies like Yahoo! and AOL as well as Zaplet, a venture-backed start-up from the first bubble. He was a management consultant with AT Kearney and has the token MBA credentials. He will be OMERS Ventures’ Managing Partner on the ground in the Bay Area.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I grew up on the East Coast, lived all over the US and even a little bit in Asia, but now call the Bay Area home. My brother, my sister and my parents have followed my lead to take advantage of the great Bay Area climate. When I’m not working, I’m an Uber driver for my two teenagers and their myriad of over-scheduled activities.
I’m a big sports fan and do not expect you to like my teams. I’m a Dallas Cowboys football fan, a New York Yankees baseball fan, a Houston Rockets basketball fan, and a Manchester United soccer fan. I expect my Toronto-based colleagues to educate me on the finer points of hockey and attempt to convert me into being a Maple Leafs fan.
Like most Californians, I like to get a little workout in, so you can always entice me with recreational activities. I play pick-up soccer every weekend; I love spin classes; I enjoy local hikes; and I’m perpetually up for doubles tennis. In the winter, I’d be happy to head to the mountains for a powder day or to cruise some corduroy groomers.
What are your main investment areas of interest right now? Any particular sectors that excite you?!
The themes that OMERS Ventures has been pursuing really spoke to me. I had previously been investing into the Future of Healthcare, the Future of Retail, the Future of Transportation and the Future of Work, and I believe these themes are still relevant for next few years, as new technologies continue to disrupt and dislocate the incumbent industry.
Regarding the teams that I invest in: While I love multi-time entrepreneurs, I have tended to back first-time entrepreneurs and plan to continue to do so. I have also had success working with diverse founders in the past, along with entrepreneurs in residence and summer interns. Lastly, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with corporate partners to ground-up or create de novo start-ups after much research and market validation. The thrill of birthing something with founders, rather than simply investing in them, is an alternative approach to investing that I wish to pursue episodically.
What was the last book that you read?
Having worked in media, I love reading books, going to the movies and binge watching television. Given my interest in healthcare, it shouldn’t be surprising that my favorite recent non-fiction books are “Bad Blood” by John Carreyrou and “An American Sickness” by Elisabeth Rosenthal. On the fiction front, I’m an unabashed fan of Kevin Kwan and his trifecta of “Crazy Rich Asians,” “China Rich Girlfriend,” and “Rich People Problems.”
With two teenagers in the house, it’s a guarantee that I will be at the movies on the weekend for any Marvel, DC Comics, Star Wars, StarTrek, Mission Impossible, Jason Bourne, Fast & Furious or Jurassic sequel. At the same time, I’m a big arthouse/indie fan too, so you can find my wife and I at film festivals taking in recent favorites like the dark drama, “The Kindergarten Teacher,” and the RBG story, “On the Basis of Sex.” For TV, I’m addicted to Game of Thrones, Homeland, Westworld, Succession, and of course, Silicon Valley, but World of Dance is my true guilty pleasure.