Venture capital arm of OMERS gets new leader

Appointment marks the first instance of division being led by an individual outside of Canada

Venture capital arm of OMERS gets new leader

OMERS Ventures, the venture capital arm of Ontario Municipal Employees' Retirement System (OMERS), has announced the appointment of Michael Yang as its managing partner and head. The decision was confirmed by Vanessa Naughton, a spokesperson for OMERS, in an email to Pensions & Investments.

Yang's journey with OMERS Ventures began in 2019 when he played a pivotal role in inaugurating their Silicon Valley office. Before that, Yang held the position of managing director at Comcast Ventures in the Bay Area. During his tenure at Comcast Ventures, Yang directed investments and board participation for the healthcare startup Accolade.

"Michael joined the OMERS Ventures team in 2019 to launch our Silicon Valley office, and more recently took on the role of leading our ventures efforts across North America," Naughton said.

Yang, who is based in San Francisco, presently serves as managing partner, responsible for overseeing the firm's venture portfolio in the United States. This marks the first instance of OMERS Ventures being led by an individual outside of Canada since its inception in 2011.

The appointment comes as Damien Steel, Yang's predecessor, assumes the position of CEO at Deep Sky, a carbon-capture startup based in Montreal and associated with Hopper, a travel technology company. The announcement was made in a press release on Tuesday.

Steel will retain his presence on Hopper's board as OMERS' representative and will continue to serve as a senior adviser at OMERS Ventures, as indicated in the announcement. Both Deep Sky and Hopper are companies in the OMERS Ventures portfolio, as reported in an article by BetaKit.

Addressing potential concerns about conflicting interests, both Steel and Hopper CEO Fred Lalonde, along with Michael Graham, global head of private equity at OMERS, dismissed such apprehensions.

“He’s fully aware how to be a board member and where his obligations lie. I’m not concerned there are any governance-related matters,” Graham told The Globe and Mail when asked about Steel's concurrent roles within the two ventures linked to OMERS.

Naughton emphasized that Deep Sky holds an OMERS endorsement, underscoring its commitment to addressing climate change.