Tango steps into new gig

Jo Tango, who left Highland Capital Partners last year after eight years of service with the firm, has launched a new venture firm called Kepha Partners.

Waltham, Mass.-based Kepha will focus on early stage technology companies and bills itself as a “special forces unit of venture capital.” The firm touts a back-to-basics approach to venture investing based on building companies rather than just financing them, which would seem to indicate that Tango will invest in a small number of companies and take a hands-on approach.

Tango, who was unavilable for comment, is the only contact listed on the firm’s website. Further details on the fund were not available.

Tango joined Highland Capital in 1998 and sat on the boards Ask Jeeves, Be Free, Digital Market, ExaGrid Systems, NextCard and Virtual Iron Software. He stepped down as a general partner at Highland in 2006 as the firm was putting together its $800 million seventh fund. Before becoming a VC, Tango spent five years with Bain & Co., working in the firm’s private equity groups in Singapore, Hong Kong and Boston.

NextCard—a provider of Internet consumer credit cards—raised about $55 million in venture funding in 1997 and 1998 from Highland Capital, Kleiner Perkins and a host of others. NextCard, based in San Francisco, launched a $120 million IPO in 1999, but it went out of business in 2003. —Alexander Haislip