Our Firm


An Introduction

Renée Baker and Tom Niehaus founded Pivotal Capital in 2013. The firm provides venture debt financing for equipment purchasing, growth capital, and acquisitions to U.S. venture-backed companies in the technology, life sciences, and sustainable energy sectors.

Only a handful of firms are in the business of lending to startup enterprises; Pivotal Capital is one of the newest. But the people who founded Pivotal have extensive experience in venture debt. Experience is important. But so is approach. At Pivotal Capital, we are entrepreneurial. We understand the challenge of growing companies, and the combination of experience and insight makes Pivotal Capital a better lender.

Capital is our product—but our product is also backed by knowledge, experience, and insight, all of which can be useful to the success of our clients. Pivotal Capital is also a great lender precisely because their portfolio companies get the full benefit of our time, attention, and responsiveness.

We’d like to talk with entrepreneurs with at least one round of traditional venture capital financing who are looking for an alternative source of capital to help them reach their goals. We want to answer questions about venture debt, of course; even more important, we want to learn about new businesses, technologies, and markets.

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Capital is not a commodity business. It’s a people business, a relationship business. We believe the best entrepreneurs want to work with people with integrity, experience, judgment and wisdom—people they can forge a connection with.

Tom Niehaus, Founding Partner, Pivotal Capital

About the Team


Venture Debt is a People Business

We are the founders of Pivotal Capital, a firm created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs and a firm devoted to lending capital to emerging companies and generating value for our investors.

The “what we do” is provide debt; the “how we do it” can be even more important to fulfilling our mission: helping entrepreneurs succeed. When we do a venture debt deal, we are fully committed to making things work.

Our tenure in this business is extensive; we were among the very first participants in the venture arena more than 25 years ago. In the aggregate, over the course of our careers, we’ve deployed more than $500 million in venture debt capital to technology companies, life sciences businesses, and energy enterprises.

Our experience spans more than just industries. We’ve been active, and successful, throughout several business cycles and technology shifts, and this generates wisdom that is valuable to our clients and to our investors.


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Renée Baker

Founding Partner, Pivotal Capital


Renée Baker is a co-founder of Pivotal Capital, and has been working in venture capital and venture debt since 1992 when she worked at Nippon Enterprise Development Corp., a limited partner in U.S. venture capital firms and co-investor in technology and lifescience investments.

In 1996, she joined Dominion Ventures where she originated West Coast transactions and worked on a variety of investments including Hotmail (acquired by Microsoft), and others. Renée co-founded Dominion Capital Management in 1999 as a managing director. In 2006, she contributed to the launch of TriplePoint Capital as a managing director, working with key companies including Facebook, Amyris, Kosmix, Aster Data, YuMe, and 3-V Biosciences.

In 2008, she joined Leader Ventures, a successor fund of Dominion Capital Management, as a managing director. Renée graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and earned an MBA at the University of San Francisco.

 

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Tom Niehaus

Founding Partner, Pivotal Capital


Tom Niehaus is a co-founder of Pivotal Capital, and he has been involved with venture debt throughout his entire career. Beginning in the late 1980s, he helped launch the venture leasing and lending platform for Comdisco, where he originated more than $700 million in technology financing.

After 12 years with Comdisco, he co-founded ZoneTrader in 1998 and became its president. At ZoneTrader, he raised more than $65 million in equity and $8 million in venture debt. In 2003, Tom went to work for Hewlett Packard Financial Services, where he created the company’s first and only global master lease and originated more than $150 million.

His most recent position, before founding Pivotal Capital, was with TriplePoint Capital—where he was a founding team member and the company’s first managing director and was responsible for YouTube, Ruckus Wireless, OncoMed, Proteolix and Cyan Optics. Tom graduated from the University of Iowa.

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I have worked alongside innovating companies in different industries and at every stage of the economic cycle – I believe that entrepreneurs and investors need a relationship with a firm that has lived through the ups and downs and can help prepare them for the unexpected.

Renée Baker, Founding Partner, Pivotal Capital

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