LONDON – EVolution Global Partners hired Graham Elton in early January as a managing director. The move came just in advance of eVolution’s planned February second close on $200 million of its $500 million-targeted freshman fund, said James Allen, managing director.
The firm, which focuses on working with corporations to leverage non-core assets and build them into new, independent ventures, had been looking for some time for an investment professional with experience in the media industry. “We believe there will be a lot fantastic opportunities in the media industry, like ventures involving digital video,” Allen said. The firm knew it had found its man in Elton, who has spent the last eight years in the media business and also had the company-building experience necessary to be a successful venture capitalist, he added.
Elton decided to become a VC after seeing several opportunities to redefine the way companies were working with media. The decision to join eVolution in particular is linked to the firm’s strategy of working with corporate partners, he added, noting this gives him a comfortable environment in which to learn the ins and outs of being a VC. “EVolution works with corporations and I understand how corporates build new companies, but I still need to learn VC,” he explained.
Prior to joining eVolution, Elton spent nearly three years as chief executive officer of United Business Media Ltd., a trade magazine publisher, conference organizer and Web site developer, which is a subsidiary of United News and Media PLC. While at United, Elton oversaw the launch of eBusinessMedia. The new company, of which Elton was also CEO, is an e-commerce venture whose goal is to develop New Economy companies that leveraged United Business Media’s assets and brands. Before his time at United, Elton spent 1993 to 1998 at Pearson PLC where, among various roles, he was strategy director for the company and managing director of Financial Times Business, the business-to-business division of the Financial Times.
Elton will have the full set of responsibilities for a typical partner at a VC firm, Allen said. “He will be looking to find great investments and then focusing on building out these companies, by doing whatever this requires, which almost always includes tasks like CEO recruitment and business development,” he added.
The firm is aiming to hold a final close on its freshman fund in June, Allen said. The vehicle was launched when the firm was founded in April 2000, he noted. The fund is expected to back approximately 25 to 35 companies with an average deal size ranging between $10 million and $15 million, he added. Allen said the vehicle does not have a particular industry focus, but a majority of the fund’s portfolio companies will have an information technology bent. “Probably 99% of our deals will likely be based around some sort of technology breakthrough,” he commented.
The vehicle will make investments in the U.S. and Europe, with about 60% of the fund’s capital going to U.S.-based deals and the remaining 40% going to European companies, with some deals pursued opportunistically in Asia. Limited partners in the fund include Bain & Co., the partners of the Texas Pacific Group and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Allen declined to identify any additional potential LPs.