WASHINGTON – Yazam hired Sean Coleman in mid-July as a managing director to head up the firm’s new Washington D.C. office, said Phil Garfinkle, president of the seed-stage, Internet and technology investment and business development company. Previously, Garfinkle, who lives in the city, had been sourcing deals there by himself.
Garfinkle said the move to open a formal office in the city is a result of the tremendous amount of innovation currently taking place in the area. “D.C. is a fantastic area of growth . . . I think this is real fertile ground right now,” he added.
Yazam engaged in an extensive search to identify the right man to lead its charge into Washington, he noted. “We needed someone with a multitude of talents: a person with business acumen and an understanding of technology, who could put together the pieces of start-ups and help make them successful companies,” Garfinkle said, adding, “Sean fits the bill because he has put companies together and brought them to market before.”
Prior to joining Yazam, Coleman worked from late 1997 to 2000 at Commonwealth Principals LLC, a merchant bank he co-founded. The bank specialized in the consolidation of private technology companies. “Our focus was to roll private technology firms together, so that the remaining firm could benefit from an economy of scale,” Coleman said. One of the bank’s successes is Internet architecture firm Luminant Worldwide, a roll-up of eight existing companies, which went public in September 1999. Before Commonwealth, Coleman was an associate in Goldman, Sachs & Co.’s energy and power investment banking group from 1996 to 1997.
Coleman said he decided to leave Commonwealth and join Yazam because of a desire to do early-stage investing. He said his responsibilities as managing director include finding deals for Yazam to invest in and then supporting his office’s portfolio companies with the professional services and business development advice they need to be successful. Coleman said he is currently focusing on assembling a research team and a business development team for the Washington office. “Once we get up to our run rate, I expect that we will do a couple of deals a month,” he said, adding, “but it’s easy to do deals, the hard part is getting them to execute.”
Yazam now has U.S. offices in New York, San Francisco, Washington, as well as international offices in London, Tokyo and Jerusalem. The company was founded in July 1999 and invests its own capital, as well as capital provided by additional private investors, venture capitalists and strategic partners. Garfinkle declined to identify these additional investors. Yazam, itself, has received approximately $75 million in three rounds of funding from investors including J.P. Morgan & Co. Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., Texas Pacific Group and Apax Partners & Co. Garfinkle said he anticipated talking with investors this fall for another round of fund raising for the company.