Transitions: Norwest Gains Telecom Specialist –

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Vab Goel, the former vice president of Quest Communications International Inc., in February joined the information technology and communications focused Norwest Venture Partners.

Goel’s experience in building large-scale communications systems will help the venture firm select similar enterprises and service providers for its portfolio, said Promod Haque, a managing general partner at the firm. As its latest venture partner focusing on communications deals, Goel also brings the firm’s portfolio companies advice from an operational standpoint.

Telecoms Soar

Venture investments in telephony and infrastructure companies continue to soar as communications networks have moved toward data rather than voice transmission (VCJ, March, page 50). The telecommunications sector raked in some $8.4 billion last year, a 152.1% increase from $3.3 billion in 1998, according to Venture Economics.

As vice president at Quest, Goel founded and led its emerging technologies division since June 1998, where he was responsible for identifying new technologies in the evolution of communications networks. Quest is an Internet communications company consisting of a network of Internet applications and services. Prior to that, he was the lead engineer at Sprint Communications Co. LP, another communications service provider.

Investment Focus

Norwest is investing its $300 million Norwest Venture Partners VIII LP, which closed in November 1999. At press time, about one-third of the vehicle was invested in some 20 to 25 seed- to mid-stage IT and communications companies. The firm’s previous $250 million Norwest Venture Partners VII LP, which closed in October 1998, is completely committed to about 25 companies, Haque said.

The firm typically invests $10 million in software companies, $15 million in communications equipment companies and $20 million to $25 million in communications services companies over several rounds of financing, Haque said.

Goel joins Norwest’s Palo Alto office, which consists of Managing General Partners Haque and George Still, General Partner Blair Whitaker, Venture Partner Kevin Hall and Associates Robert Abbott and Colin Savage. General Partners Ernest Parizeau and John Whaley work out of the firm’s Boston and Minneapolis offices, respectively.

Wells Fargo & Co. has been the firm’s only limited partner for about a decade, and there are no plans to change that structure, Haque said.