People Caught in the Squeeze Play –

Venture firms are looking to save cash by slashing payroll, the king of overhead. Underscoring how serious the cost-cutting is, firms aren’t just laying off support staff -they’re letting go of partners. Here’s a sample of some notable personnel decisions from the past several months.

Blueprint Ventures
The San Francisco-based firm laid off half its partnership in March amid fundraising difficulties. It launched its second vehicle with hopes of raising $150 million, but the new fund will more likely close with less than $75 million.

Departures:

    Brian Kinard

Cynthia Ringo

Ann Zeichner

Labrador Ventures
Earlier this year, the Silicon Valley firm closed its New York office. The only partner working in the Big Apple decided she didn’t want to move her family out west and, as such, no longer needed Labrador Ventures.

Departure:

    Polly Schneck

TL Ventures
TL Ventures fired five of its Austin-based investors in December, following the voluntary departure of Bob Fabbio, who founded the office. The moves were not made because of poor performance or a specific desire to downsize. Instead, the Austin team was built around Fabbio’s interest in seed-stage companies, whereas TL Ventures generally prefers companies with a bit more maturity. Once Fabbio left, there was no longer a strong desire among the remaining senior partnership to maintain a seed-stage practice.

Departures:

    Stanley Tims

Robert Repass

Adam Green

Peter Norwood

Stephen Yeich

Charles River Ventures
As part of an overall firm retrenchment, CRV earlier this year let go of four partners. After news of the layoffs leaked out, remaining CRV partners confirmed that the firm is considering cutting its $1.2 billion Fund XI. The moves follow CRV’s decision in June 2001 to close its New York office and dismiss that office’s principal investor.

Departures:

    Jonathan Guester

Joseph Tibbetts

Greg Waldorf

Warren Weiss

NextLevel Venture Partners

The New York-based firm received word in February that its fund had been turned down for SBIC status. Not only did this mean it would have to walk away from LP commitments, it also meant that it wouldn’t have enough management fees to pay a pair of new managing directors it hired at the end of 2001.

Departures:

    Albert “Buddy” Coffrin

David Epstein

3i Group Europe
Last November, 3i Group PLC closed seven of its smaller offices in the UK and Europe and issued pink slips to 185 employees, or 17% of its workforce. One-third of 3i’s cuts were on the European Continent and two-thirds came in the UK. The U.S. practice was not affected.

CMGI @Ventures
As its @Ventures investment unit continued to siphon precious earnings from an already red bottom line, CMGI Inc. let go of three general partners and one managing partner in August 2001. Those cuts were in addition to earlier defections of three other @Ventures partners, two analysts (now all three), and a former CMGI CFO who attended all @Ventures partners meetings.

Departures:

    Jon Callaghan

Scott Case

Gary Curtis

Josh Daniels

Highland Capital Partners
With increased pressure to produce returns, VCs are giving partners who specialize in Internet deals a close look. For that reason, Highland decided it no longer needed the services of a partner who was previously an Internet analyst.

To Depart:

    Keith Benjamin

BancBoston Capital
After losing about $700 million in 2001, BancBoston Capital has experienced some major personnel shakeups. While there have been no formal layoffs, seven senior investors have left the firm in recent months.

Departures:

    Peter Denious

John Doggett

Jean George

Bob Hower

Clifford Meijer

Peter Roberts

Mark Storey