PALO ALTO, Calif. – In October Norwest Venture Partners hired Venkat Mohan, the former president and chief operating officer of software company OnDisplay Inc., as Norwest’s fourth venture partner, said Promod Haque, managing partner. Mohan will run the firm’s new satellite office in Pleasanton, Calif.
The firm, a backer of early-stage information technology companies in the Internet/infrastructure software, communications systems and communications services spaces, had been looking for someone with experience in software, Haque noted. “Venkat has a lot of domain experience and a lot of contacts in the industry. He knows this business,” he added. Norwest also wanted to have an investment professional on the ground in San Francisco’s East Bay region, because a growing number of the firm’s portfolio companies are located in that area, he added.
Mohan joined OnDisplay in 1999 from General Electric Information Services Inc., where he had been vice president of global marketing and e-commerce for three years. Mohan guided OnDisplay through its initial public offering in 1999 and then its acquisition in July 2000 by Vignette Corp.
Mohan decided to make the leap to venture capital because he said he could not picture himself running a company for the next 15 to 20 years. “But I could see myself doing this – helping to build companies – for a while,” he explained.
Haque said Mohan’s responsibilities will not differ dramatically from those of a general partner at Norwest. “He will do basically what I do: source deals, do due diligence and help build companies – the whole nine yards for a VC,” he added, noting “he just has a little more flexibility in his schedule.”
Mohan, who will focus his efforts on e-business software and e-business services deals, said he is committed to working on Norwest businesses. However, he plans to only sit on three to four boards at a time so that he can really devote his energies to working with developing companies. “I only want to do deals where I can also be a strategic advisor to the company,” he explained. Mohan hopes to spend two days a week pursuing his own interests, including doing social service, angel investing and most likely teaching entrepreneurship and marketing courses at a local college.
Norwest is currently at the tail end of investing its last vehicle, 1999’s $315 million Norwest Venture Partners VIII, Haque said. The fund has done about 20 deals to date, he noted. The firm began speaking with Wells Fargo, its sole limited partner, about a new fund in November, he added. Haque declined to answer any questions about the new vehicle, beyond saying it will likely be bigger than Fund VIII and should hold an initial close sometime in January.