Fund briefs recap

500 Startups launches mobile fund

500 Startups has launched 500 Mobile Collective, a $10 million microfund focused on mobile investments.

Edith Yeung will manage the fund as an investment partner. She previously ran marketing and business development for Dolphin Browser, a Sequoia Capital-backed maker of a mobile browser. She was also co-founder of angel investment firm RightVentures.

500 Startups Founding Partner Dave McClure told VCJ that 500 Startups is itself an investor in the new fund. However, the majority of capital has come from new LPs that Yeung recruited.

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Edith Yeung, investment partner, 500 Mobile Collective

Source: Photo courtesy of 500 Mobile Collective

The fund will write checks in the range of $50,000 to $200,000, although follow-on investments may be slightly larger. The main 500 Startups fund and other funds in the 500 family may co-invest, as well, McClure said. He added that it’s possible Mobile Collective-backed startups could join the 500 Startups accelerator program.

The 500 Mobile Collective fund will likely back 30 to 50 investments out of the fund, and most of those will be made in the first two to three years, Yeung said. She said the fund is focusing on a range of mobile sectors, include commerce, content, payment, security, developer tools, data and enterprise.

She also said the 500 Mobile Collective, also known as 500 MC, is on pace to announce its first investment before the end of the year.

Advisors to 500 MC include: Greg Kidd (an investor in Twitter, Square and Coinbase); Joe Wu (founder of mFund and co-founder and CEO of 91, which was acquired by Baidu); Jay Sullivan (former COO and interim CEO of Mozilla); and Yongzhi Yang (founder and CEO of Dolphin Browser). –Alastair Goldfisher

Autodesk unveils $100 mln fund for 3D printing

Autodesk said it has formed a $100 million 3D printing fund to support startups developing hardware, software, materials and market places critical to the 3D printing ecosystem, specifically its Spark software.

The Spark Investment Fund will be “stage agnostic” and consider co-investments alongside venture and other strategic investors. Investments are expected to range from seed-focused deals of a couple hundred thousand dollars to rounds of $3 million to $4 million.

The fund, announced late October, is an effort to accelerate a 3D printing ecosystem that by some measures has been slow to develop. It is intended to serve as a key boost for the Spark software Autodesk announced in May and which aims at better connecting digital designs to 3D printing.

San Francisco-based Autodesk plans to derive both strategic and financial returns from the fund, said Aubrey Cattell, senior director of business development and operations.

Autodesk’s 3D printer uses a stereolithographic technology, which differs from the fused deposition modeling technology used by many 3D printers, including MakerBot’s.

Autodesk intends that Spark will connect to any 3D hardware, not just Ember. –Mark Boslet

Bertelsmann Asia becomes Chinese angel

Previously most active in growth equity, Beijing-based Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI) has reserved “tens of millions” of dollars for 20 to 30 angel deals in China over the next three years.

These sub-$1 million investments will add to the 40 businesses and four funds that BAI has already backed in China, among them BitAuto, a digital marketing service for car dealers that listed on the NYSE in 2010.

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Annabelle Yu Long, founder, Bertelsmann Asia Investments

Source: Photo courtesy of Bertelsmann Asia Investments

Annabelle Yu Long, founder of BAI, said that more angel funding is needed in China as staff from established Internet companies attempt solo ventures

“We’re witnessing one of the most exciting times for entrepreneurship: young talent are motivated to start their own companies or join startups instead of choosing the traditional big-name employers,” she told VCJ.

In 2014 total angel investment in China is expected to be near $200 million, mostly from local investors. –Alex Derber

Unshackled unveils angel fund to support foreign entrepreneurs

Unshackled unveiled in November a small angel fund with a big mission: Support foreign-born entrepreneurs interested in starting their own companies in the United States.

The fund hopes to sidestep immigration restrictions by directly hiring foreign engineers and workers with work visas, thereby becoming an employer and not just an investor.

The $3.5 million fund has attracted more than 50 investors, including numerous big names in venture, such as First Round Capital, 500 Startups, TriplePoint Capital, Emerson Collective and Ame Cloud Ventures, along with individuals, like Foundry Group’s Brad Feld, AngelList’s Naval Ravikant and Formation 8’s Joe Lonsdale.

To assure broad interest from LPs, Unshackled kept the maximum check from investors at $250,000.

The fund plans to support between 20 to 25 entrepreneurial teams over the next two years. Each team will get typically between $125,000 and $200,000 in the form of salary and capital to cover operating expenses, said Unshackled co-founders Nitin Pachisia and Manan Mehta.

Unshackled, with offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif., will take equity in companies and give founders equity, too. A company might simultaneously attend an accelerator such as TechStars or 500 Startups.

Mehta said he expects interest will be high.

“This talent pool is inherently hungry to build and innovate,” he said. “They’ve left their homes in pursuit of the American dream.” –Mark Boslet

Deutsche Telekom calls time on T-Venture

Bonn, Germany-based T-Venture, is to be replaced by a new unit from its owner and sole LP, Deutsche Telekom.

T-Venture had been due to raise a new fund from its parent next year, but will instead be succeeded by a €500 million ($625 million) fund managed by newly created Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners (DTCP).

The two GPs will operate concurrently for some time as T-Venture continues to manage its portfolio of about 100 companies. Although it won’t make any new investments, there is still some capacity for follow-on funding from its €450 million ($563 million) fund.

DTCP will continue to focus on tech startups, but will also move into private equity funding, thus diluting T-Venture’s venture capital focus.

“Our private equity approach will allow us to invest in more mature companies that have to date been outside the reach of a purely venture capital focus,” said Thorsten Langheim, managing director of DTCP, in a statement. –Alex Derber

NovaQuest launches unusual “pharma” fund targeting $750 mln

NovaQuest Capital Management is back in the market with its fourth fund, seeking $750 million to invest directly in the development of new drugs, according to a person with knowledge of the fundraising.

NovaQuest, which raised about $460 million for a third fund that closed in October 2013, has been officially marketing the fund for more than a month, the person said.

The firm wants to hold a first close on NovaQuest Pharma Opportunities Fund IV on $500 million by year’s end, the person said. Atlantic-Pacific Capital is working as placement agent on the fundraising.

NovaQuest, in an unusual if not unique strategy, provides capital to large, global biopharmaceutical companies that need help developing new drugs. NovaQuest invests directly into the products.

The firm makes its money from getting back its principal plus a profit, along with securing a drug royalty stream, the person said.

“Say you’re Eli Lilly, you have approvals (for a drug), and now you need to launch the product globally. That takes hundreds of millions of dollars. Sometimes this is where NovaQuest steps in and provides that capital,” the person said.

The NovaQuest team began pursuing its strategy in 2000 as an investment group working at Quintiles Transnational Holdings. The firm’s founding partners group is Ron Wooten, managing partner, John Bradley, senior partner, William Robb, partner and Jonathan Tunnicliffe, partner. –Chris Witkowsky

Canadian public-private VC fund raises C$160 million

The second Canadian government-backed investment fund set up to breathe life into the country’s venture community raised C$160 million ($141.6 million) on its initial closing in November.

The fund is the latest step in the government’s action plan to spur funding of Canadian startups in digital media, IT, cleantech and telecommunications.

In early 2013, the government said it would invest C$400 million in new capital over seven to 10 years in its Venture Capital Action Plan to match and attract further private-sector funding of startups.

In January, the first such fund, Northleaf Venture Catalyst, raised C$217.5 million from institutional and corporate backers, including some of Canada’s biggest banks, as well as the federal and Ontario governments.

The second fund dubbed the Kensington Venture Fund, is being run by Toronto-based Kensington Capital Partners. –Reuters

Fortune smiles on Innogest

Fresh commitments from the European Investment Fund and several wealthy entrepreneurs have helped Turin-based venture firm Innogest reach a €70 million ($88 million) second close for its second ICT and medtech fund.

Innogest II has a hard cap of €80 million ($100 million)

Innogest had forecast that it wouldn’t break the €60 million barrier this year due to difficult fundraising conditions in Europe.

“Things haven’t become any easier, but we’ve had some traction from our portfolio companies, which has helped [encourage new LPs],” Claudio Giuliano, Innogest’s co-founder, told VCJ.

Two companies have been sold from Innogest’s previous fund and Giuliano describes a “clear path” to exit for two more. –Alex Derber

Catcha creates captive VC

Publisher and new media investor Catcha will set aside $50 million to $100 million to invest in growth-stage companies in Southeast Asia. Kuala Lumpur-based Catcha has opted to formalize a minority equity strategy through the creation of Catcha Ventures.

The firm will invest about $4 million per deal, and up to a maximum of $7 million in media, technology and mobile businesses.

Despite concerns about an emerging bubble in Indonesia and Singapore, Catcha’s CEO, Patrick Grove, believes companies are still reasonably priced in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

“I expect those markets to generate the biggest portion of the value throughout the region over the next five years,” he told VCJ. –Alex Derber

Foreign LPs fill Lightbox

Mumbai-based Lightbox, a consumer technology-focused VC, has relied solely on non-Indian investors for its first primary investment fund.

The firm, which had previously acquired a portfolio in the secondaries market from Sherpalo Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has raised $100 million from Asian and United States funds-of-funds, endowments and institutional and strategic investors.

“In the Indian technology ecosystem most of the money is not Indian money and from Series C onwards a significant chunk comes from people without even a presence in India,” Lightbox’s co-founder Sid Talwar told VCJ.

Lightbox, in contrast, will operate only in its home market with early-stage deals averaging $4 million.

The fund will retain significant follow-on capacity, as Lightbox will restrict its portfolio to eight companies.

Talwar notes that Series A and B rounds have inflated by up to 50 percent in the past two years, a confirmation, he said, of the viability of the huge Indian market, where smartphones are thought to be creating about 5 million new Internet users per month. –Alex Derber

Gorenberg’s Zetta Venture Partners raises 56.45 mln

Zetta Venture Partners has raised $56.45 million for its debut fund, according to an SEC filing.

Mark Gorenberg, the firm’s founder, filed documentation for the fund last year targeting $40 million.

Previously, Gorenberg was a managing director at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.

Advent has Christmas run-up with second fund

Institutional investors like the prognosis for Advent Life Sciences’ second fund, which has raised $183 million within weeks.

The final close was almost double that of Advent Life Sciences I and validates Advent Venture Partners’ decision in 2008 to separate its technology and life science funds. Although pension funds, funds-of-funds and family offices flocked to the London-based investor this time around, the firm spent a hard two years selling its debut life sciences fund.

Advent, which promoted Kaasim Mahmood to general partner and Alan Huriez to partner following the fundraising, will invest across the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. –Alex Derber

Infocomm builds London-Singapore ridge for startups

Singapore’s government-backed, $200 million venture fund has established a London presence in a bid to persuade European tech startups to consider Asia rather than the United States for expansion.

“Competition in the U.S. is intense so it would be more rewarding for many European startups to look east. Asia is a big market and European technology products would be a natural fit there,” Zach Tan, director of Infocomm’s London office, told VCJ.

The fund’s first European investment was in Startupbootcamp’s fintech accelerator, which will launch a Singapore offshoot following the deal.

Infocomm plans further partnerships with accelerators to broaden its European network. –Alex Derber

JVP raises $160 mln combined for two funds

Jerusalem Venture Partners has raised over $100 million for its seventh fund. The target for JVP VII is $120 million, a JVP raises over $100 mln for one fund and $60 mln for another, according to a regulatory filing. Gadi Tirosh is listed as a general partner.

In a separate filing, JVP has secured $60 million for JVP VII Cyber Strategic Partners. The target for this fund is $65 million.

Bayer to invest in Versant’s newest fund

Versant Ventures‘ latest fund has added Bayer HealthCare as an LP. Bayer will invest up to $25 million in Versant Venture Capital V.

The fund will back the development of new therapies “in areas of high unmet medical need.” In addition to investing in the fund, Bayer will join the firm’s advisory board.

Russian firm raises new fintech fund

Moscow-based Life.SREDA is tapping banks to build a $100 million fund aimed at United States and European fintech stratups.

The firm has already raised $20 million and is talks with several telecoms companies and Asia-based banks to increase that total.

OneVentures on target down under

The head of Sydney-based OneVentures hopes to address Australia’s “virtual non-existent” supply of early-growth capital through its second fund.

The VC has raised A$60 million ($68 million) towards a A$100 million ($114 million) target for Innovation and Growth II, which will split its investments between the tech and healthcare sectors.

With Australian venture funds too small to attract pension scheme commitments. OneVentures instead relied entirely on family offices and wealthy individuals, including Simon Moore, the boss of Carlyle Australia, for backing.

Baird raises $185 mln for fourth fund

Baird Capital, the private investment arm of Robert W. Baird & Co, has raised $185 million for its oversubscribed fourth venture fund, sweeping past its $150 million target.

Fund IV’s LP base includes numerous institutions, foundations and family offices.

Compiled by VCJ staff