05-31-2023 CIO Investment Leadership Series: Venture Debt Opportunities

Wednesday, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm (PT)

Zoom Webinar


Zack Ellison, CFA, CAIA — Founder, Managing General Partner, & Chief Investment Officer – Applied Real Intelligence (“A.R.I.”) Venture Debt Opportunities Fund

Mike Ryan — Co-Founder & CEO, Bullet Point Network
Kai Tse, CFA — Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Structural Capital
Melissa Widner — CEO, Lighter Capital

Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm (PT)
Add to Calendar 05/31/2023 1:00 PM 05/31/2023 2:00 PM America/Los_Angeles CIO Investment Leadership Series: Venture Debt Opportunities CIO Investment Leadership Series: Venture Debt Opportunities CFALA info@cfala.org false MM/DD/YYYY
A CIO Advisory Council Sponsored Event
Demand for capital from startups is at an all-time high, which has created a supply-demand imbalance. In the past three years, startups have received a record $750+ billion in equity capital and $100+ billion in debt capital and the high demand for growth capital and refinancings is expected to continue.

While venture debt is now more topical and sought after than ever, how it works remains a mystery to many startup borrowers and investors alike.

Join the panel discussion to learn:
  • What exactly is "venture debt"?
  • How does venture debt compare with venture equity?
  • What is the historical risk and return of venture debt?
  • How do you mitigate risk in venture debt?
  • Why is venture debt an attractive replacement for other fixed income investments?
  • Where does venture debt fit into an allocator's portfolio?
  • Why is demand for venture debt from investors so high?
  • How does the failure of Silicon Valley Bank create opportunities for non-bank lenders?
  • Why is venture debt very likely to outperform in 2023 and beyond?


Zack Ellison, CFA, CAIA | Zack Ellison, CFA, CAIA, is the Chief Investment Officer of Applied Real Intelligence (“A.R.I.”) Venture Debt Opportunities Fund. A.R.I. is a Los Angeles-based venture debt investment manager focused on providing financing solutions to the fastest growing VC-backed companies in North America. Mr. Ellison leads A.R.I.’s investment activities, including sourcing, due diligence, structuring, execution, and portfolio management.

Previously, Mr. Ellison was Director of U.S. Public Fixed Income at Sun Life Financial, where he was responsible for corporate credit investing. Prior to Sun Life Financial, he was a corporate bond and credit default swap trader at Deutsche Bank. During the Global Financial Crisis, he was an investment banker where he successfully underwrote and managed a portfolio of leveraged loans at Scotia Bank. He began his financial career at Thomson (now Thomson Reuters) in the Capital Markets Intelligence group.

Currently, Mr. Ellison is a Board Member of CFA Society Los Angeles, a Board Member of the Southwest chapter of the CAIA Association, and the West Coast Regional Director of the Hedge Fund Association (HFA). He is also a member of the Milken Institute’s Young Leaders Circle (YLC) and an active member of Tech Coast Angels (TCA), the largest angel investing group in the United States.

Mr. Ellison holds an MBA with concentrations in Analytic Finance and Economics from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business along with an MS in Risk Management from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College while majoring in Economics. Additionally, he holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designations and previously held FINRA Series 7, 55, and 63 licenses. Back To Top ^^


Mike Ryan | Mike Ryan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bullet Point Network. An active private investor, entrepreneur, and board member, Mike has almost 30 years of investment, capital markets, and management experience.

In addition to founding and overseeing BPN, Mike is also the Board Chair of the Alpha Partners Technology Merger Corp and has been the CIO of MDR Capital, his family office, since 2009. Before founding Bullet Point Network, Mike served as Head of Public Equity and Absolute Return at the Harvard endowment, Head of Global Securities (overseeing equities, fixed income, currencies & commodities) at Credit Suisse, and Partner and Head of Global Equity Products at Goldman Sachs, where he spent the first 18 years of his career.

Mike has served as a director, committee chair, and board chair on numerous corporate and non-profit boards. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with a B.A. in economics and was an Academic All-American in basketball. Back To Top ^^

Kai Tse, CFA | Mr. Tse is a Co-Founder & Managing Partner with Structural Capital and has excelled for over 20 years as an entrepreneur in Financial Services and brings substantial lending and investing experience. As a Co-Founder of Structural Capital, Kai is heavily involved in all aspects of the firm including setting and executing the investment strategy, marketing and capital raising, and hiring key members of the firm from its inception.

While at Structural, Kai has invested in and assisted various portfolio companies with capital raising, business development, corporate strategy, and recruiting. Some of the successful portfolio companies Kai has been involved with include Beyond Meat, Beauty Counter, Epic Creations, IMVU, InMobi, Kilopass Semiconductor, Sunfed Ranch, Ephesoft, BYJU’s, Noom, and Manscaped.

Prior to Structural Capital, Mr. Tse was a Managing Director at TriplePoint Capital, a leading venture debt firm in Silicon Valley, where he was instrumental in building and launching the firm. TriplePoint Capital was involved (in many cases with Mr. Tse as lead investor) in financing the growth of breakout companies such as Facebook, YouTube, Riot Games, Gaikai, Ruckus Wireless, Beyond Meat and Krux, among others. Mr. Tse joined TriplePoint Capital in 2005 as a key initial hire shortly after its Founding.

Mr. Tse holds an M.B.A. (2006) from the U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business and B.S. in Accounting from the University of Illinois (1995). Mr. Tse was granted the CPA certification (1996) and is a CFA charter holder (2000). Back To Top ^^

Melissa Widner | Melissa Widner is the CEO of Lighter Capital, the pioneer and leading provider of revenue based financing to SAAS companies. She has a deep understanding of the entrepreneur's journey and the importance of growth capital.

Previously, she was the Managing Director of NAB Ventures, the venture capital arm of National Australia Bank, where she invested in and served as a director for several global fintech companies, including Lighter Capital.

As CEO, she led two companies to successful acquisitions that provided over a 10X return to investors. She co-founded and was the CEO of Silicon Valley enterprise software company, 7Software (acquired by Concur Technologies NASDAQ: CNQR, acquired by SAP).

Melissa served as a general partner at SeaPoint ventures, a US based venture capital firm focused on mobile technologies and SaaS enterprise software solutions. She is an active angel investor who served on the board of US based Alliance of Angels, one of the longest running and most active angel groups in the world. She was a lecturer in the subjects of Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship at University of Washington’s MBA program.

In 2009, Melissa relocated to Sydney with her Australian husband. She is the co-founder and chair of Heads Over Heels, an organization that works with women entrepreneurs leading high growth companies. She served on the boards of AIC (The Australian Investment Council--formerly AVCAL), and currently serves on the board of the Shore Foundation and Heads Over Heels. Back To Top ^^

Registration Fees
FREE (Members) | $20 (Non-Members)

Payment Information
We accept the following:

If you prefer to pay by check please email info@cfala.org and request to pay by check. Your registration will be completed manually and you will receive an email confirmation.

Mail Check To:
CFA Society of Los Angeles
13400 Riverside Drive, Ste. 215
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

*Credit card payments will only be accepted through the secure online registration, and not by phone or email.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellations must be received in writing by 9:00am the day prior to the event to receive a refund. No phone cancellations are accepted. Please e-mail info@cfala.org.
Zack Ellison, CFA, CAIA
As a participant in the CFA Institute Approved-Provider Program, the CFA Society of Los Angeles has determined that this program qualifies for 1 credit hour. If you are a CFA Institute member, CE credit for your participation in this program will be automatically recorded in your CE Diary.
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