We’re hearing Ross Levinsohn, the former News Corp. dealmaker considered responsible for the decision by that company to acquire MySpace in its relatively early days, may team up with ComVentures, a somewhat controversial Silicon Valley venture capital firm, to help invest in early stage investments.
Levinsohn made news recently when he launched Velocity Investment Group, together with Jonathan Miller, a former exec at AOL. (See our coverage) The two want to use the firm to start “rolling up” the multitude of Internet media companies that have sprouted in recent years, companies enabled by an explosion of online advertising. By consolidating these companies into larger brands, the idea is that the fusions will have greater value.
According to two sources, Levinsohn’s relationship, if a deal is reached, with ComVentures on the early-stage side will be akin to the relationship he has with General Atlantic for later stage investments. He helped ComVentures with its $11.5 million investment in Fuse+Media in India, announced in March. Levinsohn is based in Los Angeles, but ComVentures gives him a platform in Silicon Valley, and just as importantly, gives ComVentures contacts to Hollywood and other media industry executives. Levinsohn already sites on the board of file storage company Fabrik, a company backed ComVentures, and is likely to join the boards of two other ComVentures companies. ComVentures drew on the help of Levinsohn for one of its music-oriented virtual world companies, Doppelganger, for introductions to Hollywood agents for musicians and bands.
We’re told by well-placed sources that ComVentures will try to formalize the agreement sometime over the next couple of weeks, around the time it holds a partnership meeting with its investors. ComVentures said it didn’t want to comment at this time. Levinsohn, however, seemed more distanced when we reached him for comment. He said he helped ComVentures make investments over the last ten months while he was setting up his own firm, but said there isn’t any formal tie with ComVentures in the works. He added that he has relationships with multiple valley venture capital firms. Others, meanwhile, have told us he is reluctant to jump the gun on a formal announcement. Could it be that Levinsohn is wary of being too closely associated with the fund, where partner Roland Van Der Meer has been a bit of a bull in a china shop lately (see Sequoia standoff here, and Filmloop/other issues here)?
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