Ascent Venture Partners GPs launch debut fund with new shop

Three GPs from Ascent Venture Partners are raising their debut fund, targeting $125 million for early-stage growth investments in a new shop called Pulse Ventures, a person with knowledge of the firm told VCJ parent Buyouts Insider.

Geoff Oblak, Matt Fates and Luke Burns have all been longtime GPs at Ascent, based in Boston. They have been part of the leadership group along with Founding Partner Christopher Dick and GP Brian Girvan.

The three also have brought on Steve Waldis, former CEO of Synchronoss Technologies, the source said. Ascent had invested in past funding rounds for Synchronoss, including its Series A in 2000, PE HUB reported.

Oblak, Fates and Burns still have a relationship with Ascent VP and will continue to manage out the portfolio, the person said. Whether Ascent will raise another fund is unclear.

No one from Ascent returned a request for comment. Fates and Burns did not respond to comment requests.

The fundraising could also involve a secondary process, the person said. This would enable LPs in older Ascent funds to cash out of their interests, and would include a slug of fresh capital into Pulse’s new fund, known as a staple.

Griffin Financial Group is placement agent on the fundraising.

Ascent Venture’s roots go back to the 1990s, when its founders worked for Pioneer Group, a mutual fund and investment management company.

Ascent raised at least six funds. Most recently, the firm raised about $71 million for Fund VI as of August 2016 on a $150 million target, according to a Form D filed at the time. Whether Fund VI hit its target is unclear.

Fund V, which targeted around $200 million in 2008, had about $99 million of gross asset value as of March 2018, according to Ascent’s Form ADV. Fund IV closed on $140 million in 2003, PE HUB reported.

Fund III targeted $125 million in 1999, its first independent pool after spinning out from Pioneer Group, Venture Capital Journal reported. Interestingly, that spinout was backed by secondary shop Landmark Partners, which acquired Pioneer’s interests in the venture funds Ascent managed.

At that time, Ascent’s investment team, including Dick, Christopher Lynch, Frank Polestra and Leigh Michl, approached LPs from Pioneer Ventures II. Eighteen of those LPs committed to the Ascent fund, VCJ reported.

Action Item: Check out Ascent’s Form ADV: