MENLO PARK, Calif. – When several venture firms attempted to recruit Hambrecht & Quist Senior Equity Analyst Farrokh Billimoria, he turned to his friend, venture capitalist Steve Diamond for advice.
As it turned out, Mr. Diamond’s firm, Sprout Group, was in the market for a general partner with a background in networking and communications – precisely Mr. Billimoria’s areas of expertise. He joined Sprout in late April as a general partner in the firm’s Silicon Valley office.
Mr. Billimoria had always been drawn to venture capital, so much so that he delved into VC while working as an analyst at investment bank Hambrecht & Quist. “It just seemed to be the natural progression to do it full time,” he said.
Mr. Billimoria found Sprout attractive for several reasons: the firm, which closed on the $750 million Sprout VIII last spring (VCJ, May 1998, page 19), is well capitalized. In addition to the $750 million, Sprout partners and its parent company Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette put up another $110 million, bringing the total to $860 million. Mr. Billimoria also was impressed by Sprout’s staff and the opportunity the new job would give him to work with a broader range of information technology companies.
Sprout invests in a wide variety of industries, including health care and life sciences. In the area of IT, the firm backs data communications, telecommunications, enterprise software and electronic commerce companies, said General Partner Keith Geeslin, who also is stationed in Menlo Park. Sprout is headquartered in New York and has an office in Chicago.
Companies in data communications and telecommunications products and services make up about 10% to 20% of Sprout’s overall focus, Mr. Geeslin said, describing Mr. Billimoria as an excellent fit.
Prior to working at Hambrecht & Quist, Mr. Billimoria was an analyst at investment banking firm C.E. Unterberg Towbin. Before that, he held industry positions, including head of IT for Bankers Trust. He also worked in communications product-design. Mr. Billimoria noted that he has helped build and finance communications companies through his previous roles, and now he will be directly involved in funding such companies.
Sprout has 10 general partners, including Mr. Billimoria, six of whom focus on information technology.