James Long, venture capital investment director, UBS Next, is one of our 50 rising stars in corporate venturing in 2023.
James Long is a founding member of UBS’s $200m corporate venture capital unit, UBS Next Investments. He started his career as a consultant in several financial services companies, working on everything from digital transformation to launching new ventures. He initially joined the strategy team at UBS in 2019, which subsequently evolved into UBS Next.
Long has seen the team grow from an initial eight people at launch in 2020 to now more than 40, as UBS Next evolved to have an incubator as well as external investment function. He was promoted to investment director last year. Long focuses on early-stage opportunities and handles everything from deal sourcing to portfolio management. Portfolio management is becoming a key focus area for the team.
“We’ve been around for a couple of years. But we’re now getting to the point where we need to unlock some of the strategic value from the companies that we’ve invested in. There is a lot of connectivity that we can give them across UBS,” he says.
Some of Long’s notable investments in the last year include Endowus, Trust & Will and Ethic. He is passionate about solutions that revolutionise investing and financial decision-making. “Private markets have always been a really strategic area to UBS. A really interesting area that needs to be unlocked is democratising venture capital investments to enable not just ultra-high net worth clients to be able to invest in the asset class,” he says. “Obviously, now is a challenging environment to do that. But there is certainly a thesis for private markets investing being democratised.”
One of the most challenging aspects of corporate investing, Long says, is balancing between many, often conflicting needs.
“When you do any investment, there are multiple dimensions to weigh up. And when you’re
doing a CVC investment, many of those dimensions oppose one another. The act of balancing them and actually executing takes quite a lot of skill,” he says.
See the rest of our Top 50 Rising Stars for 2023 here.