Our Team

VC-insiders & outsiders, data scientists, public & private equity investors, and lateral thinkers

Ziad Makkawi
Founder, CEO and Executive Committee Member

Ziad Makkawi has a track-record in building high-powered teams to execute on new market opportunities of which the private shares market is the most recent. Ziad has 30 plus years experience as an investor and business builder in the financial services sector. Ziad chairs the Manager’s Investment Committee and is responsible for the firm’s overall strategic direction and product offering.

Ziad started his career at JP Morgan in New York in 1986 as a currency and derivatives trader where as Vice President, he spearheaded the firm’s arbitrage activity in the currency and interest rate derivatives markets. Ziad has served as a CEO for both private and publicly listed companies. He served as CEO of Dubai Bank and later Qatar First Bank; CEO of PE firm Istithmar World a USD 5+ billion SWF based in Dubai. Ziad also co-founded two emerging market focused investment banks MECG and SHUAA Capital. He was the Founder, CEO and CIO of Algebra Capital an emerging markets manager which he successfully sold in 2011 to global asset manager Franklin Templeton.

Ziad served on the boards of more than a dozen firms on four continents, as chairman, executive and investment committee member, director, and observer at companies such as Cirque du Soleil (entertainment – Canada), Barneys (retail – New York), IHI (hospitality – Malta), ISS (marine solutions – UK), Pension Corporation Group (insurance – UK), Istithmar P&O (real estate – UK), Dubai World Africa (hospitality – Dubai), Capital Management House (asset management – Bahrain), Algebra Capital (asset management – Dubai), Memorial Hospitals (healthcare – Turkey), David Morris (luxury retail – UK), as well as numerous other companies and funds.

Ziad holds a B.A. in Economics from Rice University, an MBA in Finance from NYU Stern School of Business, a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and has participated in several executive development programs including the Harvard YPO President University. He is a member and served as Chairman of both YPO Emirates Chapter as well as the YPO’s Regional MENA Board and the YPO’s global Art Network.

John Zic
Founding Partner

John is a Founding Partner at EQUIAM. He currently oversees the execution of EQUIAM's investment strategy across the firm's three active funds. John has more than a decade of data science experience which he applies daily to the on-going optimization EQUIAM's proprietary G.E.N.I.U.S. model. John is a member of EQUIAM’s Investment Committee.

Prior to joining EQUIAM, John was hired as the 6th non-founder employee at Forge. While there, he facilitated $400 million+ of private tech equity transactions. He executed 500+ transactions across dozens of issuers gaining best-in-class knowledge of private secondary transaction mechanics, issuer-specific idiosyncrasies, and general private equity market dynamics. Additionally, John led various data analytics and special projects efforts at Forge developing the Tech30 Capped Index and creating a proprietary valuation model for private technology companies. John holds a B.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.

Arin Nazarian
Partner, Investment Team

Arin currently shares responsibility for the execution of the  investment strategy and ongoing optimization of the Equiam GENIUS model. Arin helps develop and maintain the optimal mix of proprietary signals underpinning the GENIUS model while adhering to goals, return objectives and risk tolerance constraints for the portfolio. Arin’s day-to-day duties include identifying the top companies for Equiam to invest in and building relationships with brokers and companies to acquire positions for the portfolio. Arin is a member of the Investment Committee.

Arin has over a decade of principal investment experience across Private Equity and Venture Capital industries. He has worked with a variety of early-stage and late-stage start-ups in an advisory capacity, investing family office capital of a pre-IPO Goldman Sachs partners. He was the 7th employee and Principal at the Kingfish Group, where he helped lead private equity co-investment and direct investing activities representing $1 billion+ of invested capital. He is a graduate of the Marshall School of Business Honors Program at the University of Southern California.

Joseph Day
Partner, Investment Team

Joe is a Partner on EQUIAM's Investment Team. He has deep investment experience covering public and private equity and is a specialist in systematic quantitative approaches across global markets. Prior to joining EQUIAM, he was a Partner at Tribe Capital where he was an early member of the data science and investing team. While there, he helped scale Tribe’s quantitative approach to mid-late stage private firms and co-led Tribe's internal systematic crypto fund.

Previously, Joe was Investor at Bridgewater on the global equity team where he built systematic trading strategies, produced deep dive macro research for clients as well as frequent collaboration with the CIO’s.

Joe holds a Master’s of Financial Engineering (Cornell University), PhD in Theoretical Physics (University of Graz, Austria; visiting scholar at Stanford University)

Laxus Tat
Principal, Investment Team

Laxus, as part of the investment team is responsible for codifying and back-testing our proprietary algorithms, and working on new model optimization functions. He also focuses on our data gathering, ingestion, and insight derivations.

Laxus has extensive experience investing within in multi-billion AUM quant asset management strategies. His primary function was producing and applying quantitative research to drive investment decisions, predictive signal construction, and overall process improvement. Laxus is a data science, machine learning and optimization enthusiast. He has been programming since 9th grade and previously a professional gamer. He holds a Masters of Financial Engineering from UCLA Anderson, B.S. in Computer Science from University of Colorado at Boulder.

Yusef Alexandrine
Chief Operating Officer

Yusef is the Chief Legal and Compliance Officer at EQUIAM. Prior to joining EQUIAM, Yusef was a Director and Senior Counsel at Allianz Global Investors, where he oversaw the hedge funds and the institutional accounts businesses. At Allianz, Yusef was also responsible for ensuring compliance with all regulatory developments impacting the North America region. Previously, Yusef was an associate at K&L Gates LLP in the investment management and corporate practice groups, where he counseled a broad range of financial industry clients on regulatory compliance, fund formation, and corporate transactions. During law school, Yusef worked as a regulatory intern at the Pacific Exchange (now NYSE Arca).

Yusef holds a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He is a member of the California State Bar. Yusef also provides pro bono support to Bay Area non-profit organizations focused on child development and welfare.

Eric Borrow
Director, Operations

Eric is Director at EQUIAM in the Operations function. Prior to joining EQUIAM, Eric was a Healthcare Services Associate at Guggenheim Securities, where he executed deals in the acute and post acute spaces, with additional analytical experience in HCIT. Previously, Eric was a Vice President at BNY Mellon where he supported the outsourcing of Bridgewater's existing back office infrastructure to BNY Mellon, built and advised on operational processing tools, and oversaw Bridgewater's daily equity/ETF operations.

Eric holds a B.A. from College of the Holy Cross, an M.B.A. from NYU Stern School of Business and is a CFA Charterholder.

Kirk Oliver
Director, Placement & Distribution

Kirk, led the institutional outreach and distribution for Fund II’s $50M raise. He is in charge of qualifying and sourcing investors, strategic outreach initiatives, and managing the firm’s distribution partner relationships. He also manages several key broker relationships for the investment committee. 

Kirk was formerly institutional equity sales at B. Riley FBR where he worked with some of the top asset managers in the U.S. and abroad. He worked with a variety of start-ups in an advisory capacity and has bootstrapped various projects in the Tech & Real Estate sector. He is a web developer hobbyist and graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder, Quantitative Finance and Computer Science.


Vijay Advani

Vijay last served as Executive Chairman and CEO of Nuveen where he grew AUMs by 14% to $1T+ during his tenure. He also served as former co-President of Franklin Templeton Investments where amongst other things he built out Franklin’s extensive distribution capabilities. Vijay previously had an 11-year career at the World Bank where he advised governments on financial markets development. He is a board member of: BowX (SPAC), The Hive, Global Impact Investing Network. He is also a director and advisor at Seviora Holdings the asset management arm of Temasek in Singapore.Vijay is on the Investment committee at Santa Clara University. University of Mumbai; University of Massachusetts Amherst (MBA).

Mike Ryan

Mike is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bullet Point Network, and Board Chair of Alpha Partners Technolgy Merger Corp, which trades on NASDAQ under the ticket APTM. Mike was the previously Head of Public Equity and Absolute Return at the Harvard endowment, Head of Global Securities (overseeing equities, fixed income, currencies & commodities) at Credit Suisse and he spent nearly two decades at where was Partner and Head of Global Equity Products. Mike graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with a B.A. in Economics; Academic All-American in basketball and wrote his senior essay under David Swensen.

Thomas Buberl

Thomas is the Director & CEO of AXA, a global leader in the Insurance space with over $850B in Assets, 150K employees, and $100B+ in premiums. He was previously the CEO of Zurich Financial Services Switzerland. He is a board member at IBM (US) & was nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008.

Jacob Miller
Advisor, Systematic Signal Development & Analytics

Jacob is a co-founder at LIT alongside Joe Lonsdale. Formerly an Investment Associate at Bridgewater Associates where he worked extensively with clients on systematic portfolio construction and stress testing and building tools to make portfolio biases easily understandable and actionable. B.A. Economics, Classics from the University of Chicago

Najam Kidwai
Advisor, Executive Committee Member

Najam holds several Board and Advisory Roles including Neurable, ForgeGlobal, Boxed, Asia Innovations and Crypto 1. He is the Founding CEO of two companies that have successfully IPO’d.

Najam has previously held investment roles at Edge Venture Capital (a $100M Early Stage fund) and Stanford Research International (Investments to come out from Stanford Research include Nuance an innovator in voice, natural language understanding, reasoning and systems integration and Siri, now Apple’s AI voice assistant).

Najam was also the Founder and CEO of Real Time content, a proprietary Adaptive Media platform which exited to the NASDAQ listed Pitney Bowes.

Together with Ziad and Forge, Najam was one of the original investors into EQUIAM.

Kelly Rodriques
Advisor, Executive Committee Member

Kelly is the current CEO of Forge. He is the founding investor of mFoundry, the leading provider of mobile banking, which was acquired by Fidelity Information Systems in 2013. Formerly, CEO of PENSCO, one of the nation’s leading alternative asset custodians, which was sold to Opus Bank in 2017. He is the Managing Partner of Operative Capital, a Fintech venture firm based in San Francisco.

Perry Ha

Perry is the Founder and Managing Director of Draper Athena — a venture capital firm with offices in the U.S., Korea, Hong Kong and China. He currently serves on the board of several public and private companies including Anoto Group, HunetPlus, Takoma Technology and NexiaDevice; and is a member of the Board of Trustees at MIT.

Engineering Advisors

Philippe Legault
Engineering Advisor

Philippe is a senior software engineer, designer and angel investor with a passion for private markets. He was one of the first employees at Forge Global, where he built the user-facing platform facilitating the sourcing and closing of deals. Philippe is also the creator of Fundmarks.io. He holds a Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Ottawa and has been published in the SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics.

Justin Moore
Engineering Advisor

Justin is the CTO and cofounder of Caplight, a platform that enables institutional investors to trade derivatives on private company stock. Prior to Caplight, Justin was one of the first employees at Forge Global and built the technology powering Forge’s marketplace for private stock. He holds a bachelors in economics from Northwestern University.

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