Bain Capital Ventures has named Christina Melas-Kyriazi, a former Affirm executive and angel investor, as its newest partner.
Melas-Kyriazi will be based in the firm's San Francisco office and focus on seed and Series A investments in emerging fintech and commerce companies -- two core areas of focus for the firm.
"Christina's expertise at the intersection of fintech and e-commerce is a perfect complement to BCV's deep focus on these domains," said Merritt Hummer, partner at BCV, who met Melas-Kyriazi while both attended Harvard Business School.
Matt Harris, partner at Bain Capital Ventures, agrees. He said his firm had been "looking for a long time" for someone well-versed in the intersection of fintech and commerce.
"We at Bain Capital Ventures are very committed to domain expertise and building leadership positions in the areas we're interested in," he told TechCrunch."Fintech and commerce are certainly two of those areas. More than half of our investing dollars go to work in those two categories. And what we've experienced is that some of the best companies don't fit neatly into one category. They're often at the seams between two activities."
With Melas-Kyriazi, BCV now has seven investing partners based in San Francisco and Palo Alto. Its early-stage investing practice on the West Coast will continue to represent more than half of its investments.
The firm currently has $9.2 billion in assets under management. In May, it closed two funds valued at a combined $1.3 billion and announced a renewed focus on seed and Series A deals.. Since BCV's first fund in 2001, the firm has invested over $4.5 billion in 365 companies and claims to have helped its portfolio realize over $430 billion in enterprise value. It's backed the likes of Finix, GoCardless, Airbase and Orum. Recent IPOs include AvidXchange, FlyWire, Rent the Runway, and SmartRent, among a number of other exits.
Melas-Kyriazi went to Stanford University for undergrad and studied economics and engineering before joining Goldman Sachs as an investment banker. She then moved on to LinkedIn, where she worked "closely with product" before heading to Shift Cars in its early days.
After attending Harvard Business School to get her MBA, Melas-Kyriazi started getting interested in fintech, realizing that "fintech infrastructure is fundamentally broken."
She started working in product and growth at GoFundMe, which she said benefited from the fact that payment service providers like PayPal made it easier to accept payments and just in general from the new wave of fintech distribution.
Melas-Kyriazi then started alternative lender Affirm in 2019, where she went on the "wild ride" of seeing the company grow from 400 people to over 2,000 by the time she left. There, she got to work across multiple product areas and on the merchant side of the product team focused on enterprise.
"I realized I really loved the zero to one phase of product building," Melas-Kyriazi recalls. "I love working with founders at that stage."
It was that passion that drew her to angel investing about five years ago -- and ultimately to BCV.
"The move to VC felt like a natural transition," Melas-Kyriazi said. "There are still so many hard problems left to solve, especially within fintech and commerce-tech and I am excited to continue to work with great founders and back the next generation of mission-driven fintech founders."
As an angel investor, Melas-Kyriazi has invested in over 20 startups, many of which are in the fintech, proptech and enterprise SaaS sectors. In fact, BCV had worked with her on a number of early-stage deals.
"We have worked with Christina for many years as an angel investor partner on early-stage deals," Harris said. "Her commitment to entrepreneurs' success is second to none; she always goes the extra mile for founders,"
Today, Melas-Kyriazi is interested in a few broad categories -- from buy now, pay later to how new payment rails are being built on top of decentralized networks.
Other areas Melas-Kyriazi believes "continue to explode" are e-commerce enablement and B2B payments, which despite tremendous innovation, remains "quite broken" in her view.
Commerce is a logical area for BCV to invest considering that Bain Capital owns dozens of multibillion dollar retailers, noted Harris.
"Something that we can bring to the table for the benefit of our venture capital portfolio companies," he told TechCrunch, "is access to Dunkin' Donuts and Michael stores, for example. The list goes on of the multibillion dollar global commerce businesses that we own as a firm. And then also, in terms of financial services, Bain Capital as a $130 billion asset management firm is an important player for all the banks and all the insurance companies and the broker dealers. So it is not purely a coincidence that we've chosen these two lanes."