Asset Management G.P.s, Founder Split –

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Nine months after closing its latest fund, Asset Management Associates has a new name and address, while the firm’s founder, venerable venture capitalist Franklin “Pitch” Johnson, is going solo once again.

The firm changed its name to Alloy Ventures and moved into new offices near its long-time Palo Alto headquarters, taking with it the $115 million Asset Management Associates 1998 (VCJ, October 1998, page 20). The firm, which will continue to manage money on behalf of Asset Management’s former institutional investors, focuses on early-stage information technology and life sciences companies.

“The only thing different is our name and our address,” said Alloy General Partner John Shoch. “It’s been a long-planned transition.” Six of the seven former Asset Management general partners, including Mr. Shoch, Craig Taylor, Doug Kelly, Ferrell Sanders, Dave Pidwell and Tony Di Bona, comprise the new firm’s management team.

Meanwhile, Asset Management Co. will continue to operate as the personal investment firm for Mr. Johnson, the firm’s founder. The long-time VC, widely regarded as one of the industry’s founding fathers, created Asset Management in the mid-1960s as an individual venture capitalist and began raising traditional limited partnerships with institutional investors in 1982. He was a partner in the first five Asset Management institutional funds, the most recent of which, Asset Management Associates 1996, made its final investment in late 1998.

Mr. Johnson wanted to scale back his obligations and responsibilities to limited partners to pursue outside interests, such as chairing the San Francisco Opera. He will return to his roots as a private investor, however, because he wants to stay involved in the business to some degree.

“When I turned 70, I thought it was time to do something a little different,” Mr. Johnson said. “Basically, we’ll do the same thing we’d done from 1962 to 1982.”

Mr. Johnson, working with a staff of six that includes senior associates Ben Duben and David Mooney, will invest in deals ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. “There’s a terrific opportunity in the sub-$1 million range,” Mr. Johnson said, cautioning not to label his new role as angel investing. “We’ll provide the support and services of a venture firm,” he noted.

Mr. Johnson said he hopes to work closely with his ex-partners through co-investments in later rounds of financing of his new, early-stage deals.

Alloy’s Mr. Shoch declined to reveal how many investments Alloy Ventures 1998 has made thus far.