Sound Ventures, the venture firm founded by Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, has hired a new managing partner and COO. Effie Epstein, who most recently led global strategy at Marsh & McLennan subsidiary Marsh, will be joining the firm to make investments and help run day-to-day operations.
Epstein has a wide variety of operational experience in technology and finance: Prior to Marsh, she served as SVP of planning and head of Investor Relations at iHeartMedia, and before that she worked in business development at Clear. Epstein also worked in investment banking in the energy sector and has an MBA from Harvard Business School.
At Sound she’ll be working on new deals as an investment partner, but also implementing strategy around the firm’s investment processes and overseeing all fund operations, including legal, accounting, reporting and workflow management.
In an email to TechCrunch, Kutcher explained the reasoning behind bringing on a COO to oversee the operational side of things: “One of the things that makes us unique as a fund is that Guy and I have other jobs. This gives us access and insights that other funds may not have — but limits us in being full-time, every day on the fund. Bringing on a COO keeps hands-on-the-wheel at all times and helps us maintain quality in our back of house practices.”
According to Kutcher, Sound spent a year interviewing and meeting candidates for the role, and the team was impressed by Epstein’s unique background in business and strategy.
“Effie has a deep understanding of business and fiduciary responsibilities. She also has a multidisciplinary background which makes her a home run for venture. The bottom line is she is someone I want to work for,” Kutcher wrote.
Epstein’s addition comes as Sound Ventures has matured in its approach and begun to look into new verticals. When they first began with A-Grade Investments, Kutcher and Oseary aggressively pursued investments in high-growth startups like Uber, Airbnb and Spotify. But since the launch of Sound Ventures two years ago, they’ve been operating a bit more quietly.
That doesn’t mean they’ve slowed down their pace of investing at all. According to Kutcher, the firm made 25 investments over the last year, and will continue to look into new markets.
While the team is best known for investing in the consumer sector, Sound has been looking into opportunities in the fintech, insurance, enterprise, govtech and medtech infrastructure markets. “One of the things that was most interesting to me was how broadly Sound was looking at the market,” Epstein told me by phone.
Sound Ventures has also been looking at new ways to support startups post-investment. Last year, the firm held its first Reverb conference. That conference provided a way to connect companies that intersect with the public sector with local and state governments and get them up to speed on what’s happening in the tech world.
With Epstein aboard, the firm could look to do more events and find more opportunities to help companies as part of its portfolio.