Chris Lucas, Founder and Managing Director, formed Black Diamond Ventures to provide the individual investor the ability to invest alongside first-tier venture capital firms and institutional investors in privately-held companies. For over thirty-five years, Chris has raised capital, held board positions and managed several of the portfolio companies through successful IPO’s or acquisitions, including DexCom (DXCM), DivX Networks (DivX), Khimetrics (Acquired by SAP) and Forece10 Network (Acquired by Dell). Chris currently serves on the board of several private companies and foundations, including LiquidSpace, Tela Innovations, NEI Treatment Systems, Capella Photonics and The Lucas Brothers Foundation.
Prior to Black Diamond Ventures, Chris held executive positions for over 20 years, in several venture-backed or privately held companies, including Global One Distribution and Merchandising, and Peripheral Systems. Through his venture partnerships and family relationships, Chris was previously an investor in Advanced Fibre Communications (AFC), Cadence Design Systems (CDNS), Cerus Corporation (CERS), Coulter Pharmaceuticals (CLTR), Infinera Corporation (INFN), Macromedia (MACR), Quantum Health (QNTM) and Vixel Corporation (VIXL).
Chris received his MBA in Finance from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California Los Angeles.
As Managing Partner, Ana brings over twenty years of experience in venture capital, startup, and investment operations. Coupled with generations of entrepreneurial foresight and the ability to recognize early growth opportunities, Ana is passionate about diving into new ventures. Throughout the funding process, from evaluating deals to working directly with portfolio companies, Ana drives BDV’s initiatives forward.
True to BDV’s founding principles, Ana works one-on-one with portfolio companies, providing tactical support on communications, capital raising, and marketing initiatives, with a particular focus on Medical Devices, Mobile Applications, and Big Data. Her ability to cultivate valuable relationships is essential to the success of both portfolio companies and investors.
Ana currently sits on the board of MuMo and is a board observer for several of BDV’s portfolio companies. Ana is also active in the community as a Committee Member for Glendale Tech Week and is a founding member of SHE Ventures in Tech – a group that offers entrepreneurial support to female founders.
As Venture Partner, Brence Culp brings over twenty years of experience in the strategy, finance, policy, and administration of complex organizations – always with a lens for social impact. Since 2016, Brence worked to bring the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games to Los Angeles as a vehicle for creating positive environmental, economic, and social impact for the community.
Prior to her role as LA28’s Chief Impact Officer, Brence served in multiple C-Suite roles in large and local governmental organizations, managing multiple regional, state, and federal stakeholders. Prior to her fifteen years of executive experience in the public sector, Brence practiced corporate tax and real estate law in New York and Los Angeles.
Prior to attending NYU School of Law, Brence taught English and philosophy in both public and private schools. Along the way, she volunteered with several non-profits and founded four successful small businesses, including two student-run coffeeshops at the University of Chicago where she studied economics and great books. Brence is currently pursuing her passion for land stewardship and regenerative agriculture on a 200-acre farm in the coastal highlands of Mendocino while exploring other ways to continue making a positive impact.
As Venture Partner, John Kispert heads up our Silicon Valley office. John is a recognized leader in Silicon Valley on achieving sustainable corporate growth both organically as well as through mergers and acquisitions. John will lead fundraising efforts, expanding its “deal by deal” structure into a unique investment model, which will provide a broader investor base with a myriad of investment opportunities. As a seasoned executive and entrepreneur with over twenty five years of experience, John offers expert guidance to our entrepreneurs throughout their company’s lifecycle.
Prior to joining BDV, John was CEO of Spansion, Inc., and completed a merger of Spansion with Cypress Semiconductor in March 2015. John served as CEO since joining the company in 2009. Spansion was a developer and manufacturer of embedded semiconductors found in tens of thousands of products across many industries, including the transportation, industrial, consumer, communications and gaming industries. John led Spansion’s turnaround out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2009 into a growing, profitable company that employed nearly 4,000 people worldwide with annual revenues of over $1 billion. In May 2013, John successfully acquired Fujitsu’s Microcontroller and Analog businesses. John also has extensive experience working with corporate and government leaders throughout Asia and Europe including: China, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Singapore, Israel, Taiwan, Thailand and Korea. John currently serves on the board of several public companies (Cypress Semiconductor, TriNet, Gigamon and Extreme Networks) and one private company (Tela Innovations). He previously held leadership roles for SEMI, a global industry association representing the Semiconductor Equipment industry on issues worldwide.
Prior to joining Spansion, John spent thirteen years in a number of operational roles at KLA-Tencor including president, COO and CFO and helped lead the semiconductor equipment company’s growth from $300 million in annual revenues to over $3 billion. Before his tenure at KLA-Tencor, John held several management positions at IBM. John received his MBA from the University of California at Los Angeles and completed his undergraduate work at Grinnell College where he played basketball for all four years and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
As Venture Partner, Jon Kraft brings over thirty years’ experience as a serial entrepreneur, primarily in software and consumer digital media. He is also an entrepreneur “catalyst”, aiding others via his start-up accelerator, LiftOff. Along with being a BDV Venture Partner, advising founders and sourcing deals, Jon is currently President of Wine Chips, an early-stage CPG food company that manufactures and sells gourmet snacks that pair with wine and can be found in over 2,500 retail locations nationwide.
Jon previously served as Co-founder and CEO of Pandora Media, the largest online radio service in the U.S. with over 150M registered users (NYSE: P). Jon is also the former Chief Operating Officer and a member of the founding team at UberMedia, Idealab’s prominent Internet start-up. He led UberMedia through eight M&A transactions and helped build it into the world’s leading independent developer of mobile social apps. UberMedia was acquired by Near in 2021.
Prior to his role as COO of UberMedia, Jon was Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for Big Stage Entertainment, Inc., an advanced avatar platform company recognized by Forbes in 2009 as one of America’s 20 Most Promising Companies, and sold to Image Metrix (IMGX:OTC) in 2010. Jon’s first entrepreneurial venture was as a Co-founder of Stanford Technology Group in 1993, an innovator in the relational OLAP market, funded by Sequoia and Hummer Winblad, and acquired by Informix Corporation in 1995. Jon went on to run product management, product marketing and business development for Informix’s Data Warehouse business for two years.
Jon recently founded and built LiftOff, a Los Angeles-based start-up studio and accelerator, which had its first portfolio company IPO in 2017 (NASDAQ: VERI). He is also a co-founder and a member of the board of directors at Thrively, a strength-based online platform to help children discover their passion in life. Thrively is currently being used in over 120,000 classrooms nationwide. He also remains as active as possible with his accelerator, never straying far from helping early stage companies and entrepreneurs.
Jon served four years as Chairman of the Technology Council of Southern California. Jon holds a B.A. from Stanford University.