WPG Adds Partner, Raises New Fund –

SAN FRANCISCO – Weiss, Peck & Greer Venture Partners was busy this spring launching a new fund, welcoming a new general partner and tipping its investment strategy a bit more toward information technology and away from health care and life sciences.

By press time, the firm had almost finished raising Weiss, Peck & Greer Associates V, targeting $200 million to $250 million, said Managing General Partner Gil Cogan, noting that the vehicle is heavily oversubscribed.

Weiss, Peck & Greer Associates V features a 75%/25% carried interest split and standard management fees, Mr. Cogan said. The fund will invest about $5 million to $7 million in each portfolio company over time.

Fund IV, a $211 million vehicle that closed in the spring of 1997, is fully invested. Deal flow had been “extremely strong,” forcing Weiss Peck back to market sooner than expected with its latest fund.

A bulk of the new capital will be invested in information technology, but investments will be made opportunistically in health care and life sciences. Weiss Peck will continue searching for the best medical deals, holding to the belief that such investments can generate good returns, although less stellar than those in IT, Mr. Cogan observed.

Weiss Peck made only one biotechnology investment from Fund IV and none from its current vehicle. Meanwhile, the firm’s health-care/life-sciences investment team has been a bit short-staffed. General Partner Annette Bianchi left earlier this year to join Pacific Venture Group (VCJ, May, page 5), and General Partner Ellen Feeney departed at the end of 1998, said General Partner Jeani Delagardelle.

As a result, Weiss Peck is in the market for a health-care focused G.P., preferably with an operating background and investment or M&A experience. “We’re focusing in health care on medical devices and services, and so obviously if we find a person with that in his or her background, then it would make them closer to the profile that we’ve drawn,” Mr. Cogan said.

On the IT side, Weiss Peck will continue to invest in data communications, telecommunications, electronic commerce and software.

The firm also recently added Amal Johnson in March as a general partner specializing in software.

Ms. Johnson worked at The Baan Co. for almost five years, leaving as president of Baan Supply Chain Solutions. Previously, she held executive posts at ASK Manufacturing systems and IBM.

Ms. Johnson became acquainted with Weiss Peck while serving as a board member for KIVA Software, a Weiss Peck portfolio company that was acquired by Netscape. Mr. Cogan praised Ms. Johnson’s performance as a KIVA director.

“Our group very quickly came to the realization that she would be a terrific investor,” Mr. Cogan said, and Weiss Peck expects to take advantage of Ms. Johnson’s sense of industry trends.

Ms. Johnson said she came to respect Weiss Peck for the handling of its KIVA responsibilities. Although she has not worked in venture capital before, she gained experience in mergers and acquisitions while at Baan.

By press time, Ms. Johnson had closed her first deal, backing Alibris, a company that supplies rare and out-of-print books to online booksellers, such as Amazon.com Inc. Weiss Peck invested $5 million in a B round that closed in April.