When we tried to contact Stewart Alsop in the fall, the New Enterprise Associates GP and founder of Industry Publishing Co. had announced he was leaving the firm and was headed to a fishing hole in Idaho. Alsop is back from his angling trip and is now on the fund-raising trail.
Alsop, who remains involved with NEA as a venture partner, is raising a new fund for a small partnership to be called Agenda Capital, which shares its name with Agenda, an annual conference for executives of the computer industry that was produced by Industry Publishing.
Alsop confirmed via email that he is trying to form a fund, but provided no details. Presumably, the fund would focus on digital media or consumer technologies, where Alsop has mostly focused his attention in the past.
Gagen Switches Teams
When Martin Gagen left 3i Group last year, we thought he’d settle comfortably into a professor’s chair, since he clearly didn’t want to be involved in venture capital. Gagen had said that he planned to pursue personal goals, settle down in California and eventually leverage his 30 years of entrepreneurship and international business experience to mentor and teach.
But his grand scheme of staying out of investing is academic now. Last month, Gagen, who was a fixture at 3i for more than two decades before resigning, said he is coming back to the world of investing through buyouts. Gagen has joined the advisory board of WHI Capital Partners, a Chicago-based buyout firm focused on the lower middle markets.
Apparently, the decision to go to buyouts and not VC was a simple one. For one thing, Gagen is critical of the “CEO swapping” that frequently takes place after venture-backed deals; it’s a practice, he says, that the venture community needs to rethink. He added that VC isn’t the place to earn a buck for investors, either. “Most venture funds are heading for average or poor returns,” he says.
Update That Rolodex
Besides Alsop and Gagen, a number of other VCs have been relocating lately. Among those who need to order new business cards are:
* Arthur Klausner. After a year of being out of the mix, Klausner has resurfaced with A.M. Pappas & Associates, where he will serve as venture partner as the firm raises $120 million for its fourth fund.
* Ilan Carmi. He resigned from the general partnership of Kodiak Venture Partners, after five years with the firm. Carmi, a native Israeli, says that he wants to do deals outside of Kodiak’s geographic focus, although he has not commented on specifics.
But it’s too soon to change your Outlook database for Andrew Fillat, former venture investor for Advent International. Fillat sent out a “change of contact information” email in March that identified him as a GP with GrandBanks Capital. The email included a GrandBanks telephone number and email. But Fillat has decided not to join GrandBanks, after he and his old friend, GrandBanks founder Charley Lax, failed to agree on a partnership structure.
Also, it’s apparently too soon to write off Alta Partners from IT investing. Last month, we reported that Mike Boich and Khaled Nasr were leaving Alta to join InterWest Partners. It was almost a trio of resignations as Alta Director Robert Simon was also invited to join InterWest.
But Simon decided to remain at the firm out of loyalty to Alta’s founders, Jean Deleage and Guy Nohra.
Simon is “a fiercely loyal friend,” says one industry insider. “Though he wanted to stick with his other friends who were joining InterWest, he wasn’t about to leave Alta and make it look like they had a massive defection or some kind of problem on their hands, so he stayed.”
If the venture business had a draft, Gregory Galant would likely go early. He started a Web design/hosting company called Halenet when he was 14, and now he wants to take a crack at VC at the ripe old age of 22. Don’t laugh. He interned at Jericho, N.Y.-based venture firm Newlight Associates last year. Now he’s interviewing at New York VC firms. Galant was scheduled to graduate from Emory University last month.
Byers, Burrill Back SF
If there was any doubt whether California venture capitalists had a vested interest in the passage last year of Proposition 71 (the stem cell initiative), all disbelief was removed last month when a pair of heavy hitters from Silicon Valley’s VC community spoke on behalf of San Francisco.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine-the committee created to oversee the $3 billion that will be raised and spent for stem cell research-met in early May to decide where to put the headquarters of its stem cell institute. To win the bid for host city over contenders San Diego and Sacramento, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom brought with him Brook Byers, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Steven Burrill, of the investment firm Burrill & Co. Sure enough, San Francisco won the bid to be the institute’s home for the next 10 years.