Worldview Technology Partners, a Palo Alto venture capital firm that did well with its first fund several years ago, but has suffered with its subsequent funds after raising too much cash during the boom times, has closed shop.
(Update: We let some jargon slip in here. By “closed shop,” we don’t mean they’re literally taking down the shingle; we mean they have decided not to raise a new fund. Thus the firm’s partners will continue their responsibilities at the companies they’ve already backed, and thus try to make profits from their prior investments. Here’s more from VentureWire, saying as much. Worldview never got back to us.)
PE Week had the story this morning, and we’ve confirmed it with our own sources. Here’s what we learned:
Worldview was trying to raise a $275 million fund, but could only reach $100 million, and by that time some of its highest profile investors — Stanford, Univ. of Michigan, Horsley Bridge, Pantheon — started dropping out. And when that happens, all the other investors get nervous, because some of them are only interested when the high-profile guys are in. We’re heard that co-founder James Wei then decided to pull out of the process — essentially killing the firm. We’ve yet to confirm that.
We couldn’t reach anyone who currently works at Worldview for comment. But this firm stuck out for us in other ways: We remember visiting the firm three years ago, sitting in the lobby while awaiting a meeting with one of their partners and hearing the partners yelling at each from behind the conference room doors.
So now you are asking why firms like Redpoint and Oak have been able to raise new funds, while Worldview hasn’t.
The difference, we’re told, is the poor results of those two other firms’ boom-era funds can still be blamed on the Internet bubble bursting, and those firms showed less turnover among its partners.
Here are the three strikes against Worldview:
1. Strike one: Partner turnover begins. John Boyle, Ajit Shah and others left a few years ago. But who knows why these guys left? Perhaps differences in views about fund direction, perhaps they were underperforming. So investors call it strike one, but there’s plenty of room left for Worldview to prove itself.
2. Strike two: Worldview’s second fund, raised in 1998, a year that was terrific for investing in technology, doesn’t do very well. Worldview focused on networking and telecom, but produced mediocre results despite the boom in that sector. It was hit badly when downturn happened. (In addition, its 1999 and 2000 funds are also showing negative returns, not a huge blow if everything is equal, but doesn’t help).
3. Strike three: One of the founders leaves! Co-founder Mike Orsak last year threw in the towel on raising a new fund — a decisive blow.
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