New Fund Gabriel Nets First Close, Deals –

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. – Gabriel Venture Partners, a new hands-on technology-focused venture fund, closed two deals in June just two months after its first close.

After a $35 million initial close that included General Motors Corp. and several individual investors, Gabriel quickly wrapped its first two deals, a $3.75 million investment in communications Web portal AccessLine Communications and a $2.5 million second round in human resources application provider iTango Software. The venture firm will concentrate on Internet, information technology, communications/networking and communication services investments.

Founded in January by Rick Bolander, a former general partner of Apex Investment Partners, and Phil Samper, a veteran executive of a number of Silicon Valley and Fortune 500 companies including Sun Microsystems Inc. and Eastman Kodak Inc., the firm intends to play an active role in helping young businesses grow.

“We … believe companies can provide greater returns to the investor if they receive the nurturing and support that we can provide,” Mr. Samper said.

Part of that support will include assistance from the firm’s venture partners, a diverse group of executives who will serve on the boards of Gabriel portfolio companies, as well as consult, mentor and provide other forms of guidance along the way. Venture partners include Daniel Kaplan, an attorney with New York law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld; B.V. Jagadeesh, a co-founder of Exodus Communications Inc.; Dr. Rudolph Lamone, chairman of the board of advisers at the University of Maryland’s Michael Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship; and James Ramich, an executive vice president of Corning Inc.

Gabriel will focus on predominantly early-stage companies on the West Coast “looking for some specific help,” Mr. Bolander explained. For example, the firm will assist AccessLine to develop the company’s marketing strategy, and will help iTango build its corporate relationships.

Mr. Bolander believes such a nurturing style has helped win the interest of investors as the fund heads toward an anticipated $75 million final close in October. The vehicle has a $100 million cap. “I felt that … the VC industry is getting larger and a tremendous amount of capital is coming in,” leaving companies seeking financing with no shortage of funding options, he said.

But sometimes the best deals require more than just money. “Working closely with entrepreneurs is the best model,” he explained.

Gabriel will move into its new Redwood Shores, Calif. office in October, and plans to open an East Coast satellite office in the near future. Mr. Bolander declined to comment on how the firm would staff the office or if a third partner would be added.