Friday, May 16, 2008

The Thursday Night Party Report

Went out last night to two events: the opening of Prism VentureWorks' new office in Needham, and PopSignal (formerly TechCocktail) on Landsdowne Street. Prism's new space is across the hall from the US offices of Microsoft's FAST search division, and it looks like it was designed by Ari Gold of Entourage -- very sleek, very white, very LA.

I ran into blogger and Celtics fan Michael Feinstein of Sempre Management. John Landry was also there, sheepishly acknowledging that he'd been caught doing the Funky Chicken on the Jumbotron at Wednesday night's Celtics game. I-banker Paul Deninger was there... and just so's you realize how powerful he is, he pulls people aside every five minutes to whisper something in their ear.

Neil Creighton, CEO of Prism portfolio company RatePoint was there, and he explained why consumers might want to post ratings on a vendor's Web site (it gives the vendor a chance to address any complaints .... very different from posting a negative comment on Yelp or Epinions.) There was also a big contingent from LogMeIn, another Prism portfolio company that filed to go public back in January.

Out in the parking lot, Roy Hirshland mentioned that his firm, T3 Advisors, had been involved in Adobe's deal to buy a 108,000 square foot building in Waltham for its East Coast outpost. That suggests a long-term commitment on the part of the San Jose company, which had been leasing in Newton ever since it bought Macromedia (which bought Allaire Corp., oh so long ago).

At Tequila Rain on Landsdowne, I miraculously scored a parking space right out front... inside, I ran into Matt Lauzon of Paragon Lake, a Highland Capital-incubated company (they participated in the summer program last year) that's out raising its first round. Sounds like the money will likely come from a mix of East Coast and West Coast investors. Lauzon,a recent Babson grad, said he'd listed himself in the PowerPoint presentation as "Acting CEO." On the East Coast, he found, that made investors comfortable: we can bring in some adult supervision. But on the West Coast, people said, "Why just acting?"

Aaron White from the animation site was in the back room ... Michael Kreppein and Dave Dupre from Inquisix were there ... as were PR mavens Maura Fitzgerald and Jean Serra from Version 2.0 communications. Eric Hellweg was in attendance with a posse from Harvard Business School Publishing, and he mentioned that his band Andromeda Taxi has some big gigs this summer, opening up for Phil Lesh and the Allman Brothers. On the way out, I ran into a pair of venture capital PR folks, Matthew Burke and Karen Bonmart, both of whom were toting freebie t-shirts from TripAdvisor, which now proclaims itself the biggest Web 2.0 company in the East.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Feinstein & Fleming: Dynamic Small-Cap Duo?

I've been curious about what blogger and former VC Michael Feinstein has been up to, ever since I bumped into him over the summer at one of the OpenCoffee Club gatherings in Central Square. Feinstein, formerly at Atlas Venture and Venrock, is also a regular presence at the Web Innovators Group.

At the last Web Innovators Group, Feinstein was wearing a stick-on name tag that linked him to Clear Stream Ventures, and when I asked him if that was the name of a new VC firm he was starting, he told me it was a placeholder.

Things got more interesting last week, when I ran into a VC who told me that Feinstein had been to a Deloitte-sponsored lunch, and talked a bit about what he was up to.

After trying for a time to put together an early-stage fund using the Clear Stream name, Michael has now linked up with Bob Fleming, founder of Prism Venture Partners. (Fleming left Prism as part of Woody Benson's extreme make-over of that Needham firm, now known as Prism VentureWorks.) Feinstein and Fleming are apparently now working together to raise a fund to invest in small-cap public companies, using some space at the Waltham office of Foley Hoag, a law firm.

"I will confirm that we are doing something oriented around small-cap public companies," Feinstein writes via e-mail, adding that he and Fleming won't have anything to announce officially until 2008.

Feinstein did acknowledge that he'd been working earlier to try to set up a seed-stage VC firm, but that he may have missed the right moment for that: "I was probably too late compared to some of the new funds in Boston -- .406, DACE, Kepha, etc."

This will be an interesting project to watch ... and I'm eager to find out more...

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