Morgan Stanley Launches Next Level Fund in Partnership with Hearst, Microsoft and Walmart to Invest in Diverse Start-Ups

  • Fund to Invest in Women and Multicultural Founded Early-Stage Companies
  • Fund builds on expertise from the groundbreaking Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab and HearstLab sourcing disruptive technology and technology-enabled start-ups

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MSIM) and the Multicultural Strategy Group today announced it has launched Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund, L.P. (“Next Level” or the “Fund”). The Fund, part of MSIM’s Private Credit & Equity platform, will invest in primarily early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies with women or diverse members as part of the founding team from target sectors including technology, consumer/retail, financial technology, healthcare and media & entertainment. Investors in the strategy include the key inaugural corporate partners: Hearst, Microsoft and Walmart. This new strategy will build upon the expertise of the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab, Morgan Stanley’s in-house start-up accelerator, and HearstLab, which provides cash investment and services to early-stage, women-led startups. The team anticipates partnering with additional corporate organizations that share similar strategic interests.

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“By intentionally seeking out high-growth companies founded by multicultural and women entrepreneurs, Next Level presents an exciting opportunity for disruptive startups to increase their visibility and accelerate their businesses with the support of our corporate partners,” said Alice Vilma, Co-Portfolio Manager, Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund. “We are pleased to be partnering with Hearst, Microsoft and Walmart on this exciting new initiative which advances our respective companies’ goals to promote financial inclusion and access to capital for women and diverse founders. Portfolio companies will benefit not only from the capital provided from the Fund, but also from access to the global resources and capabilities of each of our corporate partners.”

“Hearst is delighted to partner with Morgan Stanley, Microsoft and Walmart in the Next Level Fund and to have the opportunity to support target companies and provide strategic assistance. This further augments our commitment to investing in women and diverse founders who are some of our best talent,” said Eve Burton, Executive Vice President, Hearst, and Chairwoman of HearstLab. Ms. Burton will be a member of Next Level’s Advisory Board.

Tahreem Kampton, Treasurer of Microsoft Corporation added, “We’re pleased to partner and support Morgan Stanley and the Next Level Fund to help provide opportunity and access to capital, especially in diverse and underrepresented communities, with the goal of driving positive impact through technology.”

“The Next Level Fund provides a unique opportunity to support women and diverse businesses by increasing access to capital and offering strategic assistance,” said Wayne Hamilton, Vice President, Specialty Tax, and Finance Shared Value Network lead, Walmart. “Walmart is deeply committed to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities we serve. We’re leveraging this work through four Shared Value Networks we launched last year to advance racial equity at scale. Within our Financial Shared Value Network, we are supporting more diverse suppliers to increase access to capital for women and people of color. We are delighted to be working with Morgan Stanley and our co-inaugural investors on this important initiative.”

“We are pleased to expand our impact-oriented client offerings with the addition of Next Level, and we are proud to partner with like-minded companies that share our commitment to delivering positive social impact through compelling investment opportunities,” said David N. Miller, Head of Private Credit and Equity, Morgan Stanley Investment Management. “Our differentiated approach can help to increase access to capital for women and diverse founders in our target sectors.”

The Next Level Fund is based and operated out of Morgan Stanley’s New York headquarters. Debevoise & Plimpton has been retained as counsel for the Fund.

About Morgan Stanley Investment Management

Morgan Stanley Investment Management, together with its investment advisory affiliates, has more than 730 investment professionals around the world and $1.4 trillion in assets under management or supervision as of March 31, 2021. Morgan Stanley Investment Management strives to provide outstanding long-term investment performance, service and a comprehensive suite of investment management solutions to a diverse client base, which includes governments, institutions, corporations and individuals worldwide. For further information about Morgan Stanley Investment Management, please visit www.morganstanley.com/im.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. With offices in more than 41 countries, the Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.


Media Relations Contact: Lauren Bellmare, 212.761.5303

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