Sprout Adds Exec from U.S. Robotics as Venture Investor –

CHICAGO – Semir Sirazi, a former executive with U.S. Robotics and a consultant to small companies, recently joined Sprout Group’s Chicago office as a venture partner.

Dr. Sirazi will bring deal flow to the firm through his network of contacts in the technology community and will assist Sprout portfolio companies in their development.

“He has a terrific technology background,” said Sprout Managing Partner Rick Kroon of Dr. Sirazi, who was in charge of U.S. Robotics research and development effort and also started the company’s cable access and network systems divisions. “He has a very, very broad and curious intellectual appetite for technology.”

Dr. Sirazi left U.S. Robotics, a maker of modems and remote-access systems, in 1997 after the company was sold to 3Com Corp., and he has held management and research and development posts at Zenith Electronics Corp. and Philips Data Systems.

Dr. Sirazi began working with Sprout informally last fall and was hired full-time in February. The two sides have worked out an arrangement that allows Dr. Sirazi to continue his own angel investing, and he will have fewer administrative and fund-raising duties than the firm’s 12 general partners, Mr. Kroon said.

Dr. Sirazi, who was introduced to Sprout through a friend, said he was pleased with the structure of his new role. As Sprout’s second venture partner, Mr. Sirazi expects to draw on his knowledge in networking, data communications, telecommunications and the Internet.

The other venture partner, Robert Hammer, currently is serving as a temporary chief executive for a Sprout portfolio company, Mr. Kroon said.

Based in New York, Chicago and Menlo Park, Calif., Sprout is investing its tenth institutional fund. The firm backs start-ups and expansion-stage companies as well as management buyouts nationwide. Sprout invests in a wide variety of industries including communications, health care and information technology.

Dr. Sirazi has studied technology at several schools throughout the world, including Bosphorous University in Turkey, Technical University of Istanbul, and the Philips International Institute in the Netherlands. He holds a Ph.D. from the Illinois Institute of Technology in computer science.