Seagate Founder Readies VC Fund –

SOQUEL, Calif. – Al Shugart, founder of disk drive manufacturer Seagate Technology Inc., in early January was preparing to launch the Shugart Venture Fund, his new seed- and early-stage private equity vehicle.

The 45-year veteran of the technology industry plans to begin marketing the fund, targeted between $50 million and $100 million, by the end of January. The vehicle will focus on start-up and early-stage investments primarily in the “technology or technology-related” industry, Mr. Shugart said, declining to elaborate.

The pioneer of the floppy disk industry believes deal flow in the sector will be ample, saying, “I think the big challenge is to weed out the ones we don’t want to invest in.”

Mr. Shugart added that his firm will be well endowed with opportunities to co-invest with a variety of other VCs and investors. “We’re working with everyone in general, because I know everyone in the world,” he said.

Mr. Shugart declined comment on the new vehicle’s prospective limited partners, except to describe them as “investors with money,” possibly including both individual and institutional partners.

Reid Dennis, a general partner at Menlo Park, Calif.-based Institutional Venture Partners, an early Seagate backer, could not be reached for comment.

Al Shugart International (ASI), the consulting and investment business Mr. Shugart formed after leaving Seagate in 1998, will act as the fund’s general partner. ASI is staffed by six people in addition to Mr. Shugart, including Jon van Bronkhorst, executive vice president and general manager of the venture fund, and Tim Sutton, vice president of the fund.

After the vehicle closes, the firm may add several mid-level investment employees, Mr. Shugart said.

ASI has to date made one investment, a $500,000 bridge loan in early December to San Jose, Calif.-based Blue Sky Research, a designer and manufacturer of electro-optic components and subsystems for the information industry. The loan is expected to carry the company to its next round of financing.