Phoebe Harrop, Tom Humphrey and Michael Tolo

Greatness from Within

Date Published:
February 21, 2023

We are thrilled to welcome Michael Tolo, Tom Humphrey, and Phoebe Harrop to the Blackbird Investing partnership. 

This is a big moment for Blackbird. We’ve only expanded Blackbird’s investment partnership once before with Sam and I stepping up in 2018. 

Becoming A Blackbird Investing Partner

When we think about the qualities of being a Blackbird Investing Partner, we think about a defining hunger, bordering on obsession, to invest in generational companies, right at the beginning of their lives. 

We think about the ability to build a relationship with the founders of those companies, win their trust, lead their initial round of funding and then earn the right to lead every round afterwards. 

We think about the ability to see a potential power law outcome at the very early stages, and the ability to pull this out of a founder.

We look for a contribution to the investment thinking of Blackbird by debating and developing our investment philosophy, our portfolio design and our fundraising strategy. 

We look for conviction. 

We look for someone who can communicate the vision of Blackbird and the portfolio in detail to LPs, the team, the media, the startup community, and most importantly, to founders. 

In essence, we are looking for a custodian of the Blackbird brand.

We have found these things in each of Tolo, Tom and Phoebe.


Tolo’s investment thinking is of the highest quality, bringing Blackbird into new areas like quantum computing. He has the ability to dig into the details of complex products, understand them and build conviction around those learnings. He can run the gamut of early stage to late stage. 

His bravery, and his passion, and conviction for the craft of investing inspire us.

He has built beautiful relationships with many founders, been a deeply caring manager, run magnetic hiring processes, and invested deeply in the growth and development of the team. 


Tom is a wonderful ambassador for what Blackbird stands for and a natural leader.

Tom constantly seeks to upgrade the investment team, taking on special projects on top of everything else he does. He has brought all his operating experience to our business and our portfolio, and upgraded the way we think about seeing all the seeds in Australia and New Zealand.

His board and founder relationships can withstand all the most difficult moments, and he has built a firehose of quality dealflow that exceeded our lofty expectations, helping us find and invest in companies like Cyble and Spice AI that we would not have seen otherwise. 

The experience Tom offers founders is second to none, and he embodies a hospitality mindset completely. His care for founders, and for everyone he encounters is at the highest level.  

His status as the ‘GTM King’ at Blackbird has been demonstrated in his writing - now some of Blackbird’s most-read content - and his experience and advice for founders on Enterprise SaaS is unparalleled in our team. 


Phoebe has supercharged Blackbird’s Aotearoa New Zealand expansion, and become, in a short time, one of the best investors there. Founders, LPs and people across the community come to us unprovoked to tell us how much they admire Phoebe.

She has been remarkable in coming up with creative ways to build relationships, and make investments, even where the chance of doing so was low. VeVe is a shining example of this.

Phoebe has quickly built deep and active referral networks in NZ, and is only just getting started. We have 100% confidence that in any room, Phoebe will hold her own and win people over with her charisma and charm, intellect, storytelling and star power.  We see her as a natural future leader of the NZ team. 

She has the highest ownership mentality, and we could not be building the NZ team without her. 

Blackbird has ambitious plans for the coming decade. With the addition of Tolo, Tom and Phoebe to the Blackbird partnership, we know it will be our brightest yet. 

If you’d like to get in touch directly:

Nick, Sam, Rick, Niki, Robyn & Alex, on behalf of Blackbird