Article – 05.26.2023

Building our Next Legacy: How and why Next Play Capital and Legacy Venture joined forces

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Timing is truly remarkable, isn't it? Sometimes, it feels as if the stars align perfectly, leading us to extraordinary opportunities. I marvel at how timing conspired on our behalf so that Next Legacy Partners came to be.

In the early 2000s, I witnessed my father (Ronnie Lott) become one of the first Black men to successfully break into the tightly knit network of Silicon Valley. I quickly understood the power and opportunity of venture capital, but equally as quickly, I recognized the need for greater accessibility into this ecosystem. 

Venture capital is an exclusive realm within the broader landscape of alternative assets. Elite firms, investors, and founders form a close-knit community driven by a shared pursuit of greatness and disruption. After many years of building, investing, and learning to navigate this intricate web that is venture capital, I now realize there is a fundamental truth to it: birds of a feather indeed do flock together. 

The timing of my father starting his venture fund in the late '90s played an early role in my exposure to the industry and in being inspired by the remarkable pioneers who shaped it. Among them was Legacy Venture, which immediately stood out to me as a respected firm with an unparalleled mission that I admired. 

In 2015, my partners and I embarked on building Next Play Capital with a mission deep in my heart: to provide a seat at the venture capital table for the diverse community around me. Yes, to invest, but also to learn and engage with the most talented men and women in the industry. For almost a decade, we attacked our mission and accomplished a lot. We built a community of over 2,000 athletes and influencers, invested in 36 elite managers and 54 exciting companies, and created a flywheel of success to provide returns, access and education to a diverse community.

Over the following years, I increasingly crossed paths with Legacy Venture, forging personal connections with partners from this firm I had long admired. Through conversations at industry events and annual meetings, I discovered our shared aspirations to effect change for the powerful communities we served.

Then, in 2020, a profound moment occurred in our country—the passing of George Floyd. This catalyzing event ignited a collective urgency for every facet of society to confront the pervasive issues of diversity and inclusion. Within the realm of venture capital, a historically homogeneous ecosystem, these issues were particularly glaring and demanded attention. This wake-up call first prompted Next Play Capital and Legacy Venture to explore how we could work together to make an impact (and more).

We recognized our collective responsibility to create an ecosystem that authentically represented the diverse fabric of America, and we recognized the need to place a diversity lens at the forefront of our investment decisions. The strength of Next Play Capital's minority ownership, leadership, and community, combined with Legacy Venture's philanthropic and impact-oriented community, held tremendous potential.  

We initially explored the creation of a joint venture, a product designed to invest in emerging leaders and empower them to make a lasting impact. During these times, our conversations were honest, deep, and thoughtful, quickly revealing our respective strengths, values, and the complementary nature of our firms. We concluded that if we partnered together, even in some capacity, we could be stronger and maximize our impact to do good. 

In 2021, Legacy Venture and Next Play Capital returned to the drawing board, this time with a groundbreaking idea: to join forces. 

This was something that had never been done before – two firms uniting as one, with a singular mission to amplify the impact we had already put in motion. We knew we could create a firm that would redefine the very essence of success and do material good for the world. It seemed intimidatingly simple, perfect, and powerful! 

With unwavering determination and the guidance of our leadership teams, we embarked on a two-year journey. How could we execute this monumental task? How could we ensure that combining our strengths would enhance rather than dilute our individual achievements? How do we continue to prioritize the incredible sub-sets of our broader community? Guided by critical questions such as these, we laid the foundation of Next Legacy Partners - a foundation fortified by our shared vision and values, built for years to come. 

Our mission is simple yet powerful: to amplify the impact of our diverse community of philanthropists, athletes, cultural luminaries, venture capitalists, and founders through outsized venture capital returns. 

Next Legacy Partners provides our limited partners access to exceptional managers and opportunities to invest in transformative companies alongside our world-class investors. But the key to success in this equation is that we have built the most dynamic, diverse, and impact-oriented investor base in the ecosystem. We work hard to bridge the gap between our communities of change-makers – our LPs, founders, fund managers, and others– to engineer serendipity across our entire network. We are constantly creating space for different people to engage in meaningful ways. Through educational events or thought-provoking dinners to your occasional Super Bowl game, we try to thoughtfully go beyond what’s traditional. Our first core value is “relationships over transactions,” which reflects the essence of who we are and what we strive to create. Behind all that we do is a fantastic community of people that keep our flywheel turning. 

We are committed to making a difference, not only in the lives of our limited partners but also in the broader community we serve. It's not easy, but like my grandfather once told me, "If it were easy, then everyone would do it." Our vision transcends the realm of investments alone. We believe in our capacity to create a profound and lasting impact on the world through the value we bring to others, and we are excited for all that is to come. 

I hope you will huddle up with us on this journey! We are better together.