Christian Lawless is the founding General Partner of Conversion Capital LLC. He focuses on early stage enterprise software investments with application to Financial Services and Defense. Christian has led investments for Conversion in companies like Improbable, Orchard Platform, Blend Labs, RedOwl Analytics, Booster Fuels, Immuta, Fiscal Note, Planetary Resources, LearnVest (acquired), and Paribus (acquired) among many others. He has been a Strategic Advisor and Board Member to numerous companies, most recently Immuta, Orchard Platform and Blend Labs, where he advises on Financial Services adoption. Christian has been a guest lecturer on the future of financial technology at Columbia Engineering School, Columbia Business School as well as a speaker at numerous industry conferences.
Christian is also the Managing Partner at Conversion Capital Group, which operates Conversion Intelligence, Conversion Advisory and Omada.io.
Prior to founding Conversion Capital Group, Christian was a technology entrepreneur and held various leadership roles in capital markets in both NY and London, at firms like Lehman Brothers, Nomura and Barclays. He is a member of the Atlantic Council and received a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Lea Tarnowski is a Venture Partner at Conversion Capital where she focuses on Consumer Finance, AI, Mobile and Marketplace sectors. She is inspired by the power of technology to tackle global challenges and focuses on mission driven entrepreneurs building game-changing companies.
Prior to joining Conversion Capital, Lea spent the last 8 years in Venture Capital, including 5 years with Northzone, one of Europe’s leading venture funds with $750m under management. At Northzone Lea covered fintech, consumer, mobile and marketplace sectors and led investments such as iZettle and Artfinder. Lea is an active angel investor, board member and advisor in San Francisco where her portfolio includes Zesty, Boosterfuels, Qapital, Cloudwear and many more.
Lea is a Kauffman Fellow and holds a Harvard MBA and an MSc in Business Administration and International Management from Stockholm School of Economics & HEC Paris. She has served on a variety of corporate Boards as well as on the Board of SVCA, the Swedish Venture Capital and Private Equity association. As in her work, in her spare time she is pathologically curious and loves to travel and learn. She is also a nutritionist, a former fitness instructor and a hobby guinea pig of performance hacking and new fitness trends.
Dan Wallace is a Venture Partner at Conversion Capital focusing on sectors including Mortgage Technology and Marketplace Lending. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of FirstKey Mortgage, and Co-President and Co-CEO of FirstKey Holdings LLC.
Prior to joining Conversion, Mr. Wallace was Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Capital Crossing Servicing, where he was responsible for the spin-out and subsequent purchase of the operating platform and related assets, and prior to purchase, Mr. Wallace was CEO of Capital Crossing. For more than 15 years, Mr. Wallace worked at Lehman Brothers where he was Managing Director in the Fixed Income Division. Mr. Wallace received his BS in Information & Decision Systems and Industrial Management at Carnegie Mellon University. He lives in New York City area.
Matt is the VP of Finance at Conversion Capital. He has more than 7 years of experience providing financial statement audit, audit of internal control and other attestation services to a wide array of institutions, including publicly traded entities subject to intense regulatory scrutiny.
Before joining Conversion Capital, Matt served as a Manager at KPMG in their New York City Financial Services practice. His audit experience ranges from audits of privately held organizations to SEC registrants, including those subject to Sarbanes Oxley and FDICIA internal control reporting. Matt has a thorough understanding of SEC rules and regulations and extensive knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Matt was also the recipient of KPMG’s Chairman’s Award for High Performance for both the New York City office and national audit practice — a nationally recognized achievement at a firm of more than 25,000 plus domestic employees.
Matt is attended Columbia Business School, where he focused on Accounting and Venture Capital. Outside of work, Matt is actively involved in the NYC area education reform movement and serves on a number of committees. In addition he is an active mentor to students at his alma mater.
Jeff is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Conversion Capital, helping the Fund vet and source early stage investments in the payments eco system. He is also the Founder and CEO of CoinOut, an integrated software payment system for cash users to store their change in a frictionless digital wallet.
After graduating from Columbia College, Jeff worked at Nomura on the Emerging Markets Credit, FX and Rates Sales desk. Subsequently, he went back to school, earning his JD/MBA at Columbia and thereafter being certified by the NY Bar. During his JD/MBA, Jeff worked at Apple, primarily focused on payments and consumer marketing. Much of his work at Apple was spent understanding the core technologies behind the payment systems of today and consumer habits that drive changes in behavior. He grew up in Westchester, NY and currently lives in Chelsea.
Prior to joining Conversion, Reid spent five years at Bridgewater Associates, a systematic hedge fund in Westport, Connecticut, where he was an Investment Associate. Much of his time was spent researching global corporations and the macroeconomy in order to stay ahead of the trends soon to be driving markets. At Bridgewater, Reid was involved in several key technology initiatives. Most notably, he served as product manager of a platform for large-scale equity data, analytics, and trading. He also spent time in college working for a technology startup and a strategy consulting firm in the TMT space.
Reid is based out of Conversion Capitals London office
Scott McNealy co-founded Sun Microsystems, Inc. in 1982, serving as Chief Executive Officer and Board Chairman for over 22 years. During his tenure, McNealy transformed Sun from a Silicon Valley start-up to a leading provider of network computing.
In October 2011, McNealy announced his next venture, Wayin. Wayin offers a fun, entertaining way for users and enterprise partners to post photos, ask questions, play live games, share results, and spark conversation amongst friends, consumers and people worldwide with similar interests, anywhere, anytime. McNealy serves as Wayin’s Chairman.
McNealy continues his longstanding commitment to education and advocacy for open and competitive business practices. In March 2004, he led Sun to create the Global Education & Learning Community. Now called Curriki, (“curriculum”+“wiki”), its mission is to eliminate the Education Divide. Curriki’s global online community creates quality materials that benefit teachers, parents and students.
BA, Harvard, 1976 MBA, Stanford, 1980
Peter Cherasia is the former Head of Markets Strategies for J.P. Morgan’s Investment Bank. His responsibilities included managing Markets Technology, Quantitative Research, the Advanced Strategies Group and Strategic Investments. He was a member of the Investment Bank’s 14 person Operating Committee. Previously from 2008 to 2010, Mr. Cherasia was head of Global Technology, Operations and Real Estate for the J.P. Morgan Investment Bank, responsible for technology and operations strategy and execution, as well as the firm’s global location strategy.
Managing more than half of the Investment Bank’s staff through the height of the financial crisis, Pete executed on the merger integration with Bear Stearns, and launched a front-to-back re-engineering of the bank’s derivative and processing platforms. Mr. Cherasia joined J.P. Morgan’s Investment Bank from Bear Stearns & Co where he was a member of the Management and Compensation Committee and held multiple senior business management, technology, and operations leadership positions over 23 years.
Glenn Hubbard is an American economist and academic professor. He is currently the Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, where he is also Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics. Hubbard previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 1991 to 1993, and as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors from 2001 to 2003. Hubbard is co-chair of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation; he is a past Chair of the Economic Club of New York and past co-chair of the Study Group on Corporate Boards.
In the corporate sector, he is on the boards of ADP, BlackRock Closed-End Funds, and MetLife.
He obtained his B.A. and B.S. degrees summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida in 1979, and his masters and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1983.
Alexander Asseily grew up in Beirut and London before receiving his BSc in Product Design and MSc in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. His senior product design thesis on multi-modal mobile user interfaces became the foundation for the creation of Aliph (aka Jawbone), which he founded in 1999.
Alexander served as Jawbone’s CEO through 2007 and as Executive Chairman until January 2015. As founding CEO, Alexander directed the development of Jawbone’s core products and built its defense business with DARPA. In 2004, he launched the first Jawbone headset to critical acclaim, followed in 2006 by the industry-changing Jawbone Bluetooth headset and in 2010, the award-winning JAMBOX speaker line. In 2010 the company was awarded Design of the Decade from the IDSA. Today, Jawbone is the industry leader in mobile lifestyle and wellness products, including the award winning ICON wireless headsets, JAMBOX speakers and UP wellness solutions, and to date owns over 230 patents related to UP motion sensors and wearable technology manufacturing processes.
In 2011 Alexander returned to London to found State – an opinion network built using semantic web technology. State enables any publisher website to give its visitors a light-touch and expressive way to share opinions that can be instantly networked and aggregated for deeper social engagement and insights. In 2015, Alexander was appointed to Google’s Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund Council.
Richard serves as the Special Advisor to the President of Columbia University, a position he recently assumed after retiring as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University. He is also a member of the Board of the Columbia Investment Management Company and the Columbia University Medical Center Board of Advisors. He is a former General Partner of Goldman Sachs & Co. with over 35 years of experience in the global capital marketplace.
In addition to leading The Orienta Group, Richard chairs the Board of Advisors of the Ragon Institute, a health research partnership between the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University and MIT. He also serves as a member of the Board of the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City and is a Trustee of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.
Mr. Witten graduated from Columbia College in the City of New York in 1975, and from Harvard Law School in 1978 (both cum laude).
His first novel, Divided Loyalties, was published in 2006 by Booksurge, LLC (an Amazon company).
Ann Kaplan is a partner of Circle Wealth Management, an investment advisory firm. She is also the chair of Circle Financial Group, a wealth management membership organization.
Ms. Kaplan was previously a general partner of Goldman, Sachs & Co. where she served as the head of the municipal bond department.
Ms. Kaplan serves as a board member of the Goldman Sachs Bank USA, the American Red Cross in Greater New York, and the Museum of Arts and Design. She is a member of the Board of Overseers of the Columbia University School of Business, the Council on Foreign Relations, Committee of 200, the Economic Club of New York, and the International Women’s Forum.
Ms. Kaplan holds a B.A. in government from Smith College and an M.S.W. and M.B.A. from Columbia University.
As a catalyst in the Robotics/AI revolution, Eric Daimler has 20+ years experience building companies. He has acted as Principal in two Investment Firms (HgAnalytics, CDO Ventures) championing early-stage investments in household firms such as Hotmail (NASDAQ: MSFT) and TiVo (NASDAQ: TIVO) while producing superior returns to investors. He as acted as Agent in two financial firms (Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch) serving in both quantitative, and emerging markets, finance. He has experience as an Executive, Investor, and Advisor to many information-technology companies, including six as Co-Founder. Most recently, he serves in the Robotics/AI workstreams in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
His studies in Computer Science started early at the University of Washington, continuing to Carnegie Mellon University, and later Stanford University. With degrees in Computer Science and Economics, his academic research has been at the intersection of Machine Learning and Network Science (Graph Theory). After completing his PhD, his academic career culminated in time spent in the faculty of Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science as Assistant Professor of Software Engineering Practice, and finally, Assistant Dean.
Amir Handjani is currently President of PG International Commodity Trading Services. PG International currently trades a wide variety of agrocommdities such as wheat, corn, raw sugar, feed grain and vegetable oil and is instrumental in facilitating humanitarian trade into the Middle East.
He is a Middle East and Energy Expert. His focus has been on Iran-US relations, the Iran nuclear deal, Persian Gulf and Middle East security more broadly. He is a Truman National Security Fellow and a member of the Board of the Atlantic Counsel, a prestigious think tank based in Washington, D.C. He has published extensively in Reuters, The Hill, The National Interest and Al Jazeera.
Among Mr. Handjani’s other assignments, he is a member of the Board of Directors of RAK Petroleum PLC, an exploration and production company listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and Pt Capital, an Arctic resource asset management firm.
He began his professional career as a United States Department of Justice, Honors Law Graduate where he served as Associate Chief Counsel in the Department of Justice. He is a graduate of Boston College and Northeastern University School of Law and is a member of the District of Columbia and New Jersey Bar.
John is a Integration Strategist and Venture Partner at Conversion Capital. He has been an active global investor for over 15 years, focused on opportunities in global macro, commodity markets and technology. As a seed investor in companies like Dataminr, John's fundamental investment focus is partnering with companies that are at the forefront of a technological shift in large sectors of the economy. At Conversion Capital, John not only sources new investment opportunities, but integrates those companies into a larger thesis and quickly evolving paradigm shift in financial markets, data intelligence and economic narratives.
Prior to joining Conversion Capital, John served in various senior roles in Portfolio Management and Trading at Pia Capital, Trafelet & Company, Sailifsh Capital and JP Morgan. John received a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Rob Eloff is a Venture Partner at Conversion Capital specializing in technology related investments in emerging markets.
Prior to Conversion, Rob spent nearly a decade at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan in London, Moscow and Johannesburg in equity capital markets with a focus on emerging economies. A native of Cape Town, Rob has turned his focus back to opportunities in Africa, with a focus on Financial Services, Industrial Internet, and sustainability.
He has invested in and advised early stage teams in sub-Saharan Africa for the past four years and triangulates between the innovation coming out of North America and the opportunities to partner with talent in frontier markets to achieve scale.
Rob holds a Masters degree in Finance from Cambridge University and a Batchelors degree in Commerce with majors in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Cape Town.
General Sir Richard Barrons served as Commander Joint Forces Command, one of the six ‘Chiefs of Staff” leading the UK Armed Forces until April 2016. He was responsible for 23,000 people worldwide and a budget of £4.3Bn, delivering intelligence, Special Forces, operational command and control, information systems and communications, logistics, medical support, and advanced education and training across the Armed Forces. His military career includes leadership from Captain to General on military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan – often as part of US-led coalitions. He is an experienced and successful leader of very large organizations in national and multinational settings, driving all aspects of strategy, planning, operations, and resources. Nominated in 2014 and 15 by Debrett’s/Sunday Times as one of the 500 most influential people in the UK.
His ambitions now are to be at the forefront of applying disruptive technology as it revolutionizes business, society and government, to find a leading part in addressing the causes of instability, tension and conflict in a rapidly changing world, and to contribute to the continuing evolution of defense and security thinking worldwide.
Our team has unique and complimentary skill sets, networks and visions for the future. With over 125 years of experience in Financial Services innovation, Military Intelligence and Entrepreneurship, we are at the forefront of monetizing the shift in the Global Economy.
Founder, Managing Partner
Entrepreneur in Residence
Conversion Lab was established to explore new and disruptive technologies and create solutions to complex problems plaguing Financial Services and the Global Economy. The intellectual property generated within Conversion Lab contributes to the overall mission of Conversion Capital LLC.Get in touch
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