Velvet Sea Partners


Michael is a serial entrepreneur and investor whose last company, social software company Buddy Media, sold to (NYSE: CRM) for $745 million, where he served as chief strategy officer and chief marketing officer, Marketing Cloud. With 60+ early-stage investments under his belt, including Eaze, Scopely, Map Anything, Buzzfeed, Domo, Namely, Tumblr and Dash Radio. Michael was the recipient of Ernest & Young’s coveted Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2011. Additional honors include Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40, Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, #1 on the Silicon Alley 100 and the Ad Age Digital A-List. Michael earned a BS and MS in Journalism from Northwestern University. Michael is a co-founder of VSV and will serve on the investment committee.


Kass is a serial entrepreneur and investor. As COO of Buddy Media, Kass built and managed all day-to-day operations of the company, including finance, HR, marketing and communications. Kass was named #1 on the Silicon Alley 100 and was the recipient of the Leader of the Future Award by the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute alongside legendary CEOs Alan Mulally (Ford, Boeing) and AG Lafley (Procter & Gamble). Before Buddy Media, Kass founded and ran, which was purchased by Time Warner, and built the digital arm of a marketing and consulting firm from the ground up.  Kass earned a B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth College.  Kass is a co-founder of Velvet Sea Ventures and will serve on the investment committee.


John has been a professional investor for 30 years. John co-founded Rizvi Traverse Management (RTM) in 2005 and continues to serve as COO and on the investment committee. John is on the Board of Playboy Enterprises and previously was on the Board of Sesac, an RTM portfolio company sold to Blackstone. RTM has made multiple investments in control and non-control ventures since 2005 with equity capital commitments in excess of $2 billion. Prior to founding RTM, John worked at major Wall Street Firms, most recently Morgan Stanley. John serves on the boards of directors of the portfolio companies owned by prior RTM funds. John earned a BA from Michigan State University and serves on the Board of Trustees at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, MI. John is a co-founder of VSV and will serve on the investment committee.

Matthew Giampetroni

Matthew previously served as Chief of Stuff at New York technology startup Shape Matrix. Additionally, Matthew has partnered in raising multiple Special Purpose Vehicles in the tech industry. Matthew earned a B.A. in History from Duke University. Matthew is a co-founder of VSV and will serve on the investment committee.



Mrs. Blanchard joined Rizvi Traverse Management (RTM) at its inception as the Vice President of Operations and Chief Compliance Officer. Mrs. Blanchard has over 35 years of experience in the financial services industry. She is based in the Birmingham, MI RTM office and is responsible for all administrative functions of the firm, including compliance, human resources, investor communications and coordination of investor meetings, and managing banking, legal, IT and other service provider relationships.

Prior to joining RTM, Mrs. Blanchard was a Vice President at Morgan Stanley. During that time, Mrs. Blanchard oversaw all compliance, legal, system and operational issues for a 15 person team that specialized in Institutional Advisory and Alternative Investment Products with client assets in excess of $8 billion. In addition, Mrs. Blanchard was responsible for all reporting (trustee statements, statement of fees, analysis of trading activities and fees) and was responsible for trading equities and fixed income securities for pension clients with assets in excess of $6 billion.


Mr. Knowles joined RTM in May 2008 and is the firm’s Chief Financial Officer, with over 27 years experience (18 years within the private equity industry). He is responsible for the financial statement reporting, accounting, tax compliance, and investor reporting functions of the firm. He also assists with compliance and transaction structuring.

Prior to joining RTM, he was SVP at Citi Private Equity Services (CPES) for seven years, where he managed all aspects of client relationships and focused primarily on the accounting, reporting, and administrative service offerings for middle-market private equity funds and their related entities. Prior to CPES, he was a controller for a venture capital-backed international technology company and a manager at a New York regional CPA firm. Mr. Knowles holds a BS in Accounting and Finance from the University of Buffalo.


Ms. DiMarzo joined RTM in 2014 as Principal and General Counsel. Ms. DiMarzo has over 20 years of legal experience in private equity, venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and securities law compliance. She is responsible for all legal functions of the firm and also assists with compliance, transaction structuring and investor relations matters.

Prior to joining RTM, Ms. DiMarzo was a partner at Honigman LLP in Ann Arbor, Michigan and an associate at Ropes & Gray LLP in Boston, Massachusetts. Ms. DiMarzo holds a BA from Dartmouth College and a JD from Harvard Law School.

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