Thursday, June 5, 2008

Edocs founder Kevin Laracey shacks up with Sigma

Sigma + Partners, the Boston VC firm, just announced they've added Kevin Laracey, formerly founder and CEO of edocs, as a venture partner.

Edocs was acquired by Siebel Systems back in 2004, for somewhere between $115 million (the amount reported initially) and $145 million (the amount Sigma lists on Laracey's bio -- which could include later incentive payments for hitting certain milestones).

That means that the company, which made Web-based account management and billing software, was a middling success for its investors. Edocs raised $80 million in VC from Sigma, Charles River Ventures, JAFCO Ventures, and others. So it was slightly less than a 2x deal when Seibel acquired it.

As with all newly-minted VCs, it'll be interesting to see Laracey's first few deals...

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Peermeta Lands Ricotta as CEO

Acton-based Peermeta, founded by Cheng Wu and funded by Sigma and Kepha Partners, is starting to say a bit more about what they're up to...and today, they announced that they've hired IBM and Cisco veteran Jim Ricotta as CEO.

Here's their company description:

    Peermeta is a pioneer in Web 2.x enabled software platforms for intelligent end points utilizing mobile broadband infrastructure. Peermeta provides a method for tapping into the breadth of distributed heterogeneous content, extending control over consumable content to users for personalization and sharing among social networks, and closing the capability gap between today's fixed and mobile networks. The result is enhanced end-user experiences, mainstream adoption of mobile media and greater productivity in our daily lives.

That's what I need: greater productivity in my daily life!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tight-Lipped Tango Looks to McKinsey as a Model

I had a conversation earlier this week with Jo Tango, founder of the early-stage venture firm Kepha Partners and an alumnus of Highland Capital Partners. The entire conversation was off-the-record, though. Tango says he wants to let the companies in which he invests do the talking. The comparison he used was McKinsey & Company, which never even divulges the names of clients it serves.

I acknowledge that VCs can often hog the spotlight, subtly trying to make themselves look like the geniuses, rather than the entrepreneurs they choose to back.

But Boston needs a new generation of high-profile VCs, and I had been hoping that Tango would be part of that group.

VCs ought to be a presence at public events (Tango usually turns down speaking invites, and doesn’t go to gatherings like Web Innovators Group or OpenCoffee), and they ought to blog/write/podcast/vlog about what’s on their minds and what they’re seeing.

That sends a message that:

    A. They’re approachable, even if you’re not a done-it-before entrepreneur, and
    B. It communicates that there is a vibrant, plugged-in VC community here that’s interested in new stuff, and brainstorming about it in public.

Unlike McKinsey, Tango does at least have a Web site listing the investments he has made so far. (He also lists a number of investments he made while at Highland.) Kepha’s two investments so far, AutoVirt and Peermeta, have both been made alongside Sigma Partners, another ultra-quiet local firm. Peermeta was a $6 million first round; AutoVirt’s wasn’t disclosed. Peermeta was founded by Cheng Wu, the successful serial entrepreneur who has been with Cisco, ArrowPoint, and Cascade.

The same day I spoke with Tango, CEO Evan Schumacher asked who I thought were the next-gen VC firms in Boston… the firms that are worth watching because of their new approach to investing. Off the cuff, I listed Spark Capital, IDG Ventures, .406 Ventures, Longworth, and General Catalyst. (Old school firms trying to reinvent themselves include Prism VentureWorks and Polaris.) While some of them don’t have dazzling track records yet, they are communicating with -- and presumably working with -- entrepreneurs in new ways.

Tango, I worry, is doing things the old “Waltham way."

(Am I being too cranky on the day before Thanksgiving? Maybe. So I'll note that Tango gets very high marks on, mostly for his work while at Highland. Also, I compare Kepha with other new early-stage venture firms here.)

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Did EMC Drop Out of the Bidding for EqualLogic?

Dell is paying $1.4 billion in cash for Nashua, NH-based EqualLogic. Company is run by Lotus alum Don Bulens, and backed by Charles River Ventures, Sigma Partners, Focus Ventures, and TD Capital. This is a big exit for all involved, since only about $52 million had been invested in EqualLogic. (Earlier this year, Bulens had touted the company as an IPO prospect.)

I had lunch today with a storage industry entrepreneur who suggested that EMC had likely been in the bidding, but dropped out before the price reached $1.4 billion. He also speculated that this could mean the end of EMC's partnership with Dell; Dell's reseller arrangement with EMC accounts for about 16 percent of EMC's storage revenue. The official word from EMC is that there will be no changes to the Dell partnerhship.

Goldman Sachs just downgraded EMC from a "Buy" to "Neutral."

EMC chief executive Joe Tucci gave this interview in October in which he vowed to catch up to the competition by early 2008. Which is coming soon.

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