Fund Briefs, October 2009

Prism Shuts California Office

Prism VentureWorks has closed its West Coast office, several months after the Needham, Mass.-based firm suspended efforts to raise its sixth fund.

Prism originally opened the Venice, Calif.-based satellite to accommodate partner Gordie Nye, who wanted to move out west. He will continue to serve as a general partner with Prism, but will be based out of a home office. Venture partner Tony Natale will relocate east, while principal Bong Koh is focusing on IBeatYou, an online competition website he founded with Prism backing, and a stealth-mode startup also backed by Prism.

VCJ sister publication peHUB reported in May that Prism had suspended efforts to raise $275 million for its sixth fund, due to the difficult fund-raising environment. The California office closure is an attempt to save money on overhead.—Dan PrimackDFJ Esprit Raises $495M

DFJ Esprit has raised a combined $495 million for two new funds: DFJ Esprit III, a new venture capital fund focused on Europe, and Encore Ventures I, a secondary vehicle which has agreed to acquire 3i’s European venture portfolio.

DFJ Esprit, which is part of the Draper Fisher Jurvetson network, held a $100 million first close for its third European venture capital fund, which is targeting $215 million. It said the LPs in its third venture fund include the European Investment Fund, Finnish Industry Investors, Partners Group, JP Morgan, LGT Group and Harbourvest.

DFJ Esprit also raised $280 million for its inaugural secondary fund, which it said is backed by Coller Capital and Harbourvest.

“We are delighted to be able to announce two new funds in the current economic climate with the backing of leading LPs,” Simon Cook, CEO of DFJ Esprit, said in a prepared statement. “DFJ Esprit III will continue to support the best entrepreneurs from all over the UK and Europe, just as our partner DFJ network funds do in Silicon Valley, China, India, Israel and around the world. In addition, we are excited to be the first mainstream venture firm to establish a dedicated secondary team where the opportunities to acquire stakes in fast growing businesses are significant.”

3i Unloads Part of VC Portfolio

3i Group has agreed to sell a portfolio of investments in small European companies to a consortium of rivals for about $217 million. The consortium includes Coller Capital, HarbourVest Partners and DFJ Esprit.

The portfolio includes investments in technology, media, telecoms and healthcare companies across Europe.

Coller and HarbourVest were reported last April to be considering bids for 3i’s assets. The London-based firm has been trying to get out of early stage investing for some time and closed its office in Menlo Park, Calif., late last year. It has spent much of this year selling off assets to reduce debt.

London-based DFJ Esprit, which has an office in Cambridge, Mass., will manage the portfolio through a new division it set up called Encore Ventures. —Deborah Gage

Cisco Commits to South Korea Fund

Cisco Systems has committed $32 million to an $80 million VC fund managed by SkyLake Incuvest & Co., which will focus on investments in South Korea over the next eight years.

The Korea Venture Investment Co., Korea National Pension Service and Tongyang Life Insurance are co-investors in the fund with Cisco.

Called SkyLake Global Incuvest 4 (SGI4), the new fund was formally launched last month. In announcing the fund, Cisco said that SGI4 is the largest IT venture fund in Korea.

Earlier this year, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco announced plans to set up a research center in South Korea and invest or lend $500 million in the country’s technology and telecom sectors. In a separate project, Cisco plans to invest or lend about $500 million in South Korean telecom operators and technology infrastructure over the next five years. —Alastair Goldfisher

Helix Searches for Health Care Deals

Helix Ventures recently launched to raise a debut fund for $150 million to target health care technology companies.

Principals of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm include former Asset Management Co. investors Graham Crooke and Evgeny Zaytsev and Fusion Medical Technologies co-founder Philip Sawyer.

Potential investors reportedly include the family of Asset Management founder Franklin P. “Pitch” Johnson.

HLM Seeks $200M

HLM Venture Partners is raising up to $200 million for its latest health care-related fund, according to a regulatory filing.

The Boston-based VC firm invests in health care technology and services sectors. Its most recent fund, called HLM Venture Partners II, was capped at about $215 million in 2005.