BlueRun Ventures, a venture capital fund that focuses heavily on mobile, consumer and enterprise investments, is just the latest venture firm to fall short of its fund-raising goal. It has raised a little more than $240 million for its fourth fund, short of its original $300 million target.
The firm, whose partners have backed companies from PayPal, to Slide and Zivity, said the fund-raising experience last year coincided with a review of its priorities, and that one decision was to close down its Israel office and let go of the firm’s partner there. Notably, the firm decided Israel was too small of a market, and that there were capital inefficiencies inherent in launching companies there only to focus immediately on exporting. Other reports have looked at Israel recently and raised questions about whether that market can produce decent returns for investors. (Note, however, that startups in Israel raised $1.4 billion in 2008, an increase over recent years, and so its not clear yet whether downsizing in Israel is a trend).
While the firm has made some cuts in its staff (it has downsized by two and a half partners), a spokeswoman said it still plans to ramp up again in Asia, and so says the smaller fund doesn’t mean it will have fewer partners long-term. The firm says it still is looking to hire two more people — to be placed in China and India — and wants to increase its dollar allocation to those markets.
Another partner, Sujit Banerjee, will now be shared with another firm, Element Partners. Banerjee had increasingly focused on clean-technology companies, and so will bring those deals to Element, while he brings semiconductor deals to BlueRun. Finally, a third partner was cut.
The firm is curtailing its funds earmarked for Finland, another sign that the ecosystem around the Finnish giant Nokia (to which BlueRun has historical ties) carries less interest for investors these days. The firm says it still sees strong opportunities in the U.S.