“Growth Stage” Ignition Capital Splits from Ignition Partners

Three growth equity partners from Bellevue-based VC firm Ignition Partners have packed up their offices, renamed themselves Ignition Capital and moved to a new home in downtown Seattle. 

Back in late 2007, Ignition raised two separate funds, a $400 million vehicle for early-stage investments (Ignition Ventures IV), and a $275 million fund for later-stage stage companies looking to scale faster (Ignition Growth Capital Fund). At the time, Ignition said it planned to make about 30 investments from the early-stage fund and eight to 10 investments from the growth fund, focusing on telecom, software and services. The growth fund had a global mandate, while the early-stage activities focused, sometimes to the firm’s detriment, on the Pacific Northwest.

While the growth fund companies include wireless and satellite communications firms MTN (South Africa), WMS (Florida) and Geolink (Aistralia), several of the Seattle-area investments have caused recent embarrassment, including Entellium, which exploded in a very public fraud case.

Executives who’ve worked closely with Ignition have more recently expressed concern that the firm has grown too large for its own good, too. Said one entrepreneur to me last month, “Ignition is no longer a functional environment for making sound, timely, decisive judgments.” Pointing to Ignition’s 13 partners, as well as to the two funds Ignition raised most recently, he’d added, “They have way too much money and way too many partners.”

It’s not clear whether some of Ignition Partners’ 13 partners will be pulling double duty. (I’ve contacted the firm and have yet to hear back.) All of them remain listed at the site of Ignition Partners.

The site of Ignition Capital, meanwhile, features managing directors Jon Anderson, Rich Tong, and John Zagula, former Ignition Partners’ partners who are joined by Robert Headley, a former Starbucks VP who’d more recently joined Ignition Partners as a venture partner. 

Xconomy’s Greg Huang first reported on the firm’s split-up and has many more details here.