Laura Lynne Witt, who passed away in Utah on Jan. 30 from a sudden rupture of an intracranial aneurysm, served Baltimore-based ABS Capital Partners for two decades, nurturing its investments in firms such as Rosetta Stone, Double-Take Software, iZotope, Scale Computing and Metastorm.
Born in Rochester, N.Y., Witt, 54, earned a BA degree in politics from Princeton University and later an MBA from the Wharton School. Her career spanned Europe as well as the United States, before she eventually moved to Salt Lake City to more vigorously pursue her love for skiing. In Utah, she served the Drawdown Fund, which provides growth equity for companies mitigating the effects of climate change.
“Laura was a great listener. She was interested in so many things and loved to discuss art, music, history, politics and economics,” an obituary on Legacy.com said. “She was a great writer and excellent at conveying tough messages in a positive manner. In a difficult situation, Laura would always see the positive side of things to allow everyone to move forward constructively.”
Indeed, in an article in The Verse, Witt underlined the importance of listening in the world of investing.
“Today, there’s a lot about venture capital and private equity in the public consciousness, but I don’t necessarily think much captures what really makes a good investor,” she wrote. “First and foremost, though it might not make for compelling headlines, the truly important asset is to be a good listener. You need to listen to the management teams you work with and to the customers they’re targeting.”
After starting her career at Oliver, Wyman & Company in New York as a strategy consultant, she moved to its Frankfurt office where he met her future husband, Thomas. She went on to assume a similar role at Monitor Deloitte, before enrolling at Wharton. She and Thomas married at Princeton University Chapel in 1997, after which they made Baltimore their home and built a family as she worked for ABS Capital for two long decades.
As a general partner, Witt focused on technology firms and notably piloted ABS Capital’s investment in the educational software maker Rosetta Stone. She served as the chairman of Rosetta Stone from 2005 to 2011. She also played a role in helping ABS Capital rework its capital structure and helped set strategic direction for the venture firm. Witt oversaw other ABS Capital portfolio companies such as RedZone Robotics, Quofore, Alloy Digital Investments, Syncapse Corp., ChannelWave, Quofore International, Cyveillance and DrugMax.
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After moving to Salt Lake City, and joining the Drawdown Fund in 2019, Witt passionately aligned with the firm’s climate change goals, expressing a strong desire to save the planet for future generations. “I have always loved the positive energy that surrounds entrepreneurial businesses, but investing in a mission-driven area is a whole new world,” she wrote. “I love having a purpose — a calling to leave the planet better for my children.”
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Witt also wished to tackle the $1 trillion problem of food waste, which she said added to 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. She was especially enthusiastic about two startups — Full Harvest, which sells produce that would be rejected due to grocery store aesthetics “(think: quirky carrot, too-small citrus),” and Mori, which has created a process to coat produce, meat and fish with a natural silk protein to extend shelf life.
Witt is survived by her husband Thomas, and their two children Caroline and Sam, brother Mark Balles and sister Jennifer Baumann.