American Century Launches VC Vehicle –

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – American Century Investments in March joined the ranks of corporate investors with the launch of the $100 million American Century Ventures Inc., said Harold Bradley, senior vice president of strategic investments at the company.

American Century Ventures will back early-stage financial services, technology and telecommunications companies focused on enhancing productivity and efficiency of the financial services industry, Bradley said, adding that the venture arm is more concerned with spawning productive ideas than with generating a profit. The fund will invest in technology companies that allow its parent company to save time and capital expended during the trading and investing process.

The fund will make initial investments of between $2 million to $8 million in enterprises based in the United States and abroad. American Century Investments is the fund’s sole limited partner and will deploy the fund’s capital over the next four years, the company reported.

Prior to establishing the corporate venture fund, the parent company made seven venture investments totaling $38 million, the first of which was made in the first half of 1998. American Century Companies backed Optimark Technologies Inc., a software provider whose goal is to increase the efficiency and fairness by which financial transactions are completed. WorldStreet Inc., another company in the portfolio, is a financial services-focused application services provider that filters real-time market data and financial information based on a customer’s individual investment preferences.

Creating a corporate venture fund was a natural progression to ensure a process of due diligence, establish an identity separate from its parent company, one that is associated with the venture, rather than the mutual fund community, and to allow the managers to focus completely on venture investing, Bradley said.

Bradley, who has been with American Century for 12 years as both a portfolio manager and as the lead trader, will head the private equity group. He will work with Diane Mulcahy, director of strategic investments, who joins the company from Bessemer Venture Partners, where she had worked for three years as a vice president specializing in health-care deals. The company will expand its management team as the portfolio grows.

The venture arm is a unit of American Century Investments, a mutual fund, brokerage and investment services company serving some two million individual and institutional clients. Founded in 1958, the company operates more than 70 mutual funds and manages more than $115 billion in assets. American Century Investments intends to become a customer of all of its portfolio companies.