From the brink 21 years ago, IVP now stronger than ever

The late-stage investor announced in early October that its 116th portfolio company, telemed start-up Hims & Hers, will go public via a SPAC. But IVP’s future was not always as clear.

IVP ranks 17th on the inaugural VCJ 50, with $2.9 billion raised in the past five years. That is quite the feat considering the firm nearly blew apart 21 years ago.

IVP’s future was far from certain in 1999, when partners Tom Dyal, Tim Haley and Geoff Yang teamed up with three partners from Brentwood Venture Capital to found tech-focused Redpoint Ventures. At the same time, IVP’s Sam Colella and Becky Robertson joined forces with three partners from Brentwood and two from Crosspoint Venture Capital to create healthcare-focused Versant Ventures.

The departures left IVP with seven partners and no plan to raise another fund. Reid Dennis, who founded IVP in 1980, suggested he and a new team could raise a new IVP fund at some point, but the conventional wisdom was that the firm would slowly wind down. At the time, Dennis was 73 and had been venture investing for about 47 years.

IVP’s second act kicked off in March 2000 with the arrival of partner Todd Chaffee. He had spent the previous five years building up Visa’s venture business, during which it generated an IRR of more than 240 percent. Chaffee passed on offers from a number of other outfits. “While those firms were intriguing, I would have been just one more partner joining a top-tier venture firm and I would have to fit into their existing investment operation, culture, etcetera,” he said. “The opportunity to rebuild IVP was even more intriguing to me because I could build the IVP business from scratch and define the strategy, operations and the culture of the firm.”

Working with Dennis also appealed to Chaffee. “It was an honor to work with Reid given his long history in the business and his colorful, thoughtful and entertaining demeanor,” he said. “When Norm Fogelsong and I restarted the firm in 2000, Reid wanted to work in a part-time capacity, so Norm and I thought that would be a perfect arrangement to leverage his vast experience.” They also benefited from Mary Jane Elmore signing on as a part-time GP, Chaffee says.

The foursome set their sights on a modest $150 million for fund X, which focused on late-stage venture and growth equity investments. The fund was oversubscribed, closing on $225 million in September 2001, foreshadowing the expansion of the late-stage market.

The firm is currently investing IVP XVI, which closed on $1.5 billion in 2017. As of early October, it was in the midst of raising Fund XVII, which has no official target.

“Our goal was to become the market leader of the later stage venture business and that approach has been quite rewarding for us since the later stage growth market has increased in size every year for the past 20 years,” Chaffee said.

Like the overall market, IVP has grown rapidly since its reboot. “Once we finished the IVP X fundraising, we recruited Steve Harrick and Dennis Phelps in October of 2001,” Chaffee said. “Later in 2006, we recruited Sandy Miller as a general partner and Jules Maltz as a vice-president in 2008. Jules performed so well we promoted him to principal and then general partner in 2011.”

IVP stayed vibrant by continuing to add new blood. “Somesh Dash, Eric Liaw and Tom Loverro all followed the same progression as Jules,” Chaffee said. “We hired each of them as VPs and then promoted them to principals and subsequently general partners. I’m extremely pleased with the way our team has grown and performed over the past 20 years, and I believe the firm is well positioned for growth over the next 20 years.”

Where are they now?

Here is what the 12 general partners of IVP, circa 1999, are doing today:


Reid Dennis. Founder and strategic advisor.
Mary Jane Elmore. Strategic advisor at IVP and angel investor at Broadway Angels.
Norm Fogelsong. Advisory partner.

Redpoint Ventures

Tom Dyal. Co-founder and managing director.
Tim Haley. Co-founder and managing director.
Geoff Yang. Co-founder and managing director.

Versant Ventures

Sam Colella. Co-founder and managing director.
Becky Robertson. Co-founder and managing director.


Ruthann Quindlen. Board member at and advisory board member at AnswerLab.
Jim Strand. Retired.
Bill Tai. Angel/seed investor, partner emeritus at CRB and board member at Voxer and Société L’Avenir.
Pete Thomas. Passed away on November 16, 2019.