Former NBC Marketing Exec. Joins Polaris –

WALTHAM, Mass. – Polaris Venture Partners hired Maria Battaglia in October as the firm’s chief marketing officer in an effort to improve brand recognition and marketing strategies for the firm and its portfolio companies.

Battaglia, who also became a partner at Polaris, will help the firm’s portfolio companies develop their marketing infrastructures, such as identifying key constituencies.

Battaglia added that the portfolio companies are in varied developmental stages, and she will establish marketing strategies to fit each stage.

While at NBC, Battaglia worked on similar projects assisting NBC’s several divisions and portfolio of holdings. She recently ended her three-year association with the network as the vice president of corporate communications. Battaglia joined the organization as the director of communications for MSNBC, NBC’s joint media venture with Microsoft Corp. Previously, she had been with IBM and Cambridge Technology Partners Inc.

“Maria brings over 10 years of strategic communications, brand positioning and planning expertise from NBC and IBM to her new role at Polaris. She has a deep understanding of technology and media, which is invaluable to Polaris and its portfolio companies,” said Alan Spoon, one of four managing partners at Polaris.

Battaglia cited Spoon as her original contact at Polaris and credits him with influencing her to join the firm. She became familiar with Spoon when he was at the Washington Post Co., most recently as president and chief operating officer.

Several VC firms have been expanding to provide value-added services to their portfolio companies. Battaglia said new companies now have a greater need to demonstrate abilities for brand differentiation and other core marketing strategies.

Polaris has accelerator programs in both its Boston and Seattle offices. Battaglia is based in the Boston office, but will assist all of the portfolio companies across the country.

Battaglia will also work on Polaris’ internal marketing strategies, such as building the firm’s visibility.

Polaris has $1.2 billion in capital under management and invests primarily in early-stage information technology and medical technology companies. Along with offices in Boston and Seattle, the firm has an office in Austin, Texas.

In January 2000, the firm closed its most recent fund, Polaris Venture Partners III. At press time, the fund was about 40% committed, and had invested in 20 companies, including 3PLex, Watchfire, and Paradigm Genetics Inc.

The firm seeks a 20% to 25% ownership stake in their portfolio companies, and currently averages a 19% share of the companies in its third fund. The firm is an early-stage investor and invests between $250,000 and $15 million in its portfolio companies.