Firm Run by Adviser to Obamas Gets Backing From BDT

An investment and advisory firm that funds and consults with businesses founded by people of color and has high-profile clients including former President

Barack Obama

is getting a new infusion of capital from another prominent backer.

Merchant bank BDT & Co. is taking a stake in Pendulum Holdings LLC., a firm co-founded and led by former BDT partner

Robbie Robinson

and his wife


executives from both firms said. The funds will be used to continue to build Pendulum’s staff, they said.

The investment, which gives BDT a nonvoting minority stake in Pendulum, follows a similar infusion from

Bank of America Corp.

last year, which hasn’t previously been reported. It couldn’t be learned how much either firm invested.

BDT specializes in advising and investing in family- and founder-led businesses. Its founder,

Byron Trott,

formerly of

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.,

is known as the favorite banker of famed investor

Warren Buffett.

Mr. Robinson, best known for advising Mr. Obama and his wife


on their personal finances, met Mr. Trott at Goldman, where they worked together for a number of years. In 2009, he left the bank to help Mr. Trott build BDT.

The Robinsons eventually decided there should be an institution like BDT that caters to Black founders and others of color. They launched Los Angeles-based Pendulum in 2019.

Mr. Robinson serves as chief executive, while Mrs. Robinson, a former chemist, civic leader and entrepreneur, is chief operating officer.

“Being an entrepreneur of color these days can be a lonely journey,” Mr. Robinson said. “Folks are excited to be part of a platform that feels like it was built for them.”

He said businesses founded by people of color fail with greater frequency, often due to a lack of capital. Even those with access to capital often get advice that is transactional rather than strategic.

“These are high-quality businesses and skilled entrepreneurs that just don’t get the same kind of support,” said Mr. Trott, who was already personally invested in Pendulum’s fund.

The Robinsons said Pendulum seeks to invest in companies that appeal to consumers who are motivated by their values.

The firm’s investment arm, which has raised a $200 million vehicle, has so far backed 12 different businesses. Among them are Altro Inc., an app that helps users build their credit profiles by tracking their spending; fast-casual restaurant platform FieldTrip and mobile electric-vehicle-charging network SparkCharge.

In addition to the Obamas, Pendulum’s advisory business counts NBA point guard Chris Paul and

Jerry Lorenzo,

founder of luxury-streetwear brand Fear of God, among its clients.

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