Hamilton Lane becomes Bison’s main stakeholder

Hamilton Lane invested in and partnered with private equity data provider Bison to launch Cobalt, which offers separate tools for LPs and GPs.

Asset manager Hamilton Lane has invested in and is partnering with private market industry data provider Bison to launch Cobalt, an analytics platform for private equity.

This marks the fourth technology-sector investment for the Pennsylvania-based firm with $315 billion in assets under management and supervision, it said in a statement. Before this, Hamilton Lane invested in fund portfolio analytics company iLEVEL/Ipreo, deal management software DealCloud, and investment management software platform Black Mountain Systems.

Through this Series A round investment in Boston-based Bison, Hamilton Lane becomes Bison’s biggest stakeholder. A Hamilton Lane spokeswoman declined to comment on the specific amount of the investment, but said it came from Hamilton Lane’s balance sheet, rather than a fund or client capital.

Cobalt is divided into two products: Cobalt LP, which Hamilton Lane exclusively distributes and which provides fund due diligence, peer analysis, portfolio analytics, and cash-flow forecasting for limited partners; and Cobalt GP, which Bison exclusively distributes, providing tools such as peer benchmarking, fundraising management, and track record analysis for GPs to attract investors. 

“Our investment in Bison and partnership on Cobalt is part of a continued effort to help address what we believe is a systemic underinvestment in data and infrastructure in this asset class,” Hamilton Lane chief investment officer Erik Hirsch said in the statement. Hirsch joined Bison’s board of directors through this transaction.

Bison chief executive Rasmus Goksor said the company had been developing software analytics for private equity since inception in 2011. According to the Bison website, its platform tracks 21,104 funds and other information including fund performance, investors and commitment sizes, industry trends, publicly sourced cashflows, and more.

According to the LinkedIn profile of Bison co-founder Michael Nugent, Nugent left the firm in August, when his co-founder Rasmus Goksor became CEO. Goksor had previously served as chief operating officer since Bison’s founding.

Goksor wrote to PEI in an email: “Bison's co-founder, Mike Nugent, is most passionate about the early stage start-up environment and ideation, and as such was a critical part of growing Bison. He has now moved on to a new project, and we wish him well and continue to have a great relationship with him.”

Hamilton Lane manages fund of funds, including Hamilton Lane Strategic Opportunities Fund, which closed this year on $213.7 million, above its $150 million target. In July, it also held a final close for Hamilton Lane Private Equity Fund IX on $516 million, above its $400 million target, according to PEI data.

Its commitments to private equity funds include those made to the $331 million Creador II in 2013 and $175 million Greycroft Partners III in 2012.