Sapphire Ventures, the LP arm of VC firm Sapphire Partners, has announced that it will now be managing the emerging manager portfolio of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). This new partnership will see Sapphire exclusively handling CalSTRS’ investments in emerging managers, with a total of five funds worth $1.4 billion in assets.
Sapphire Ventures has been chosen to exclusively manage CalSTRS’ emerging manager portfolio, with assets worth
.4 billion. This partnership solidifies Sapphire’s position as a leading supporter of emerging managers and increases its assets under management to $3.6 billion.
Previously, Invesco, a major investor in various asset classes, had made investments in emerging managers as part of its work with CalSTRS. However, as Invesco wanted to focus on other areas such as healthcare and private equity, it decided to sell its stakes in the emerging manager portfolio to Sapphire at a discounted rate.
CalSTRS conducted an independent process to select Sapphire as the new manager, using Invesco’s decision as an opportunity to re-evaluate its approach to funding emerging managers. Rob Ross, a private equity portfolio manager at CalSTRS, explained that standardizing one group to specifically focus on venture capital made sense for the pension system, given the specialized nature of emerging manager investments.
Sapphire’s new partnership with CalSTRS positions the firm as one of the largest and most active supporters of the emerging manager system in the venture capital world. It also adds to Sapphire’s existing investments in earlier emerging funds, including Amplify, Data Collective, and Union Square Climate.
Elizabeth “Beezer” Clarkson, who leads Sapphire’s fund investing business, highlighted that the partnership complements Sapphire’s core business of identifying promising fund managers globally. The firm actively seeks out talent and opportunities, rather than simply waiting for them to come its way.