In the mid-1970s, the investment banker Felix Rohatyn orchestrated a financial bailout of New York City, saving it from fiscal ruin and setting the stage for its 1980s comeback. His son, LabMorgan co-head Nic Rohatyn, intends to have as significant an impact on the nascent b-to-b e-finance space.
If the last year is any indicator, Rohatyn—and LabMorgan’s other co-head, Denis O’Leary—are on their way to doing so. Since launching last March, LabMorgan has built a portfolio of 65 e-finance companies, some emerging as early leaders in their spaces.
Name: Nic Rohatyn and Denis O’Leary
Company: LabMorgan, New York
Mission: "To find, develop, invest in and help commercialize e-finance ideas."
Rohatyn and O’Leary have done a great deal to position LabMorgan’s newly merged parent, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., as one of the leading Internet investment banks. This is not only through their willingness to commit J.P. Morgan Chase venture financing, but also its deal flow to LabMorgan’s portfolio companies. "Most of our through-puts here are in trillions, not billions anymore," O’Leary said from his Park Avenue office. (Today, LabMorgan is moving into a new, stand-alone site at 60 Wall Street.)
The strategy could be O'Leary and Rohatyn's legacy—or their undoing. Based on LabMorgan's success, a growing number of e-finance watchers believe it will be the former.
For now, Rohatyn and O'Leary are focused on moving LabMorgan forward amid a slowing marketplace. Rohatyn said that the tepid economy is a good thing for LabMorgan and its portfolio companies, for it is keeping put their talented workers. "I worry more about a return to a real bull market than the current conditions," Rohatyn said.
—Philip B. Clark