Ridgelift fund takes nosedive

Ridgelift Ventures has shut down after coming up short in raising $200 million for an early stage tech fund.

The Woodside, Calif.-based firm was co-founded about 14 months ago by former U.S. Venture Partners Partner Stu Phillips and former Idealab Managing Director Robert Goldberg. They later added former Charles River Ventures Partner Dave Newman and former Dominion Ventures CFO Kendall Cooper to the roster.

The team was not able to secure even $100 million in limited partner commitments for its inaugural fund. “It was just a very difficult environment to raise a fund in,” Phillips told VCJ in June. “The LBO guys are taking up a lot of the LPs’ attention and capital.”

It also didn’t help that while both Phillips and Goldberg were generally well-regarded among LPs, neither had an abundance of investment home runs to trumpet on their roadshow. Two of Phillips’ best returns came from CacheFlow (renamed Blue Coat Systems Inc.), which launched a $120 million IPO in 1999, and @Road Inc., which held a $63 million IPO in 2000.

It was just a very difficult environment to raise a fund in. The LBO guys are taking up a lot of the LPs’ attention and capital.

Stu Phillips, Co-founder, RidgeLift Ventures

Goldberg’s highlight reel includes investments in X1 Technologies Inc., Snap.com and Insider Pages (which was acquired for an undisclosed amount by CitySearch in March 2007). X1 and Snap remain active portfolio companies for Idealab.

Phillips and Goldberg had met more than eight years ago, when Phillips led a USVP investment in browser add-on company FlySwat, which was later acquired by NBCi, where Goldberg was serving as senior VP of sales, marketing and operations. The two later served together on the boards of ClickShift and X1.

Neither Phillips nor Goldberg has planned his next move. Phillips says he may do some angel investing, join an existing firm or try again to launch a new firm. In the meantime, he will stay busy with his Soaring on Ridgelift blog (http://1vc.typepad.com/).

Phillips says he doesn’t plan to change the name of the blog, since he is an avid pilot. “Ridge lift” is a term used when a prevailing wind rushes against a long hill or ridge of hills and the air is forced upward. —Dan Primack