Random Ramblings: Sex Toys, Symmetric & Sun

*** Last week we reported that Tim Draper was among the angels who invested $1.1 million in sex toy company Jimmy Jane. But Tim wasn’t alone. It turns out that another three or four of DFJ’s eight other managing directors also chipped into what they view as a steady, niche retail opportunity. But before prudish limited partners pull up their LPAs, please note that DFJ itself has not made a commitment – as it’s not the sort of tech play that fits into the firm’s portfolio strategy. Instead, each commitment comes from the managing directors’ individual bank accounts.

*** Today’s new fund alert involves Symmetric Partners, which has secured over $85 million in capital commitments from groups like Goldman Sachs, Lucent and the University of North Carolina. The Boston-based firm plans to target lower middle-market companies in North America, and is marketing its inaugural vehicle with a $200 million target and a $300 million hard cap.

Its principals are Daniel Doyle and Rob Walsh, who years ago worked together at Summit Partners. Doyle later moved on to co-founder Shawmut Capital Partners, which seems to be winding down (particularly given that Symmetric is operating out of Shawmut CP’s offices). Walsh left much more recently. Firm management also includes Bill McMahon in an operating partner sort of role. He is the former COO of KB Toys and CEO of Decorative Concepts, who also had a very short stint with Heritage Partners and a longer one as a go-to operator with Bain Capital.

*** Accel Partners yesterday partnered up with the addition of Rich Wong, former senior vice president and general manager of Openwave. I asked Accel’s Peter Wagner is Wong’s hiring was done to fill a partnership void left by last year’s defection of Peter Fenton to Benchmark, but he said it was not. “Rich just happened to be available now,” Wagner said. “Had he been available earlier, we would have hired him then.”

It’s also worth noting that Wagner and Wong first became acquainted as friendly adversaries in the late 1990s. Wagner had led Accel’s investment in North Point Communications, and was serving on its board. Wong meanwhile was chief marketing officer for North Point rival Covad Communications…

*** Quiz Time: Can you name the middle-market buyout shop that last week suffered multiple senior defections? Hint: It’s been trying to raise its third fund for a (very) long time.

*** Was KKR’s $700 million PIPE infusion into Sun Microsystems a baby-step toward an eventual take-private offer for the entire company? Wael Aburida, managing director of tech I-banking at Nollenberger Capital Partners, says “maybe” in the latest issue of Buyouts (sub required): “It’s a good way for KKR to start evaluating whether it makes sense to take [Sun] private and how to extract value from it,” he says.

The folks over a Red Herring, however, disagree – pointing out a “standstill agreement that bars nine-month-old KKR Private Equity Investors, the publicly traded arm of KKR, from acquiring more than 5 percent of Sun shares through the close of the deal in 2014.” It’s unclear, however, if that agreement also is applicable to KKR’s private funds. If not, then it’s basically insignificant.