Alsop’s New Agenda: Raising a VC Fund

Stewart Alsop has made his decision.

In November, in a memo to his colleagues at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Alsop said that he was leaving his general partner’s post to “see if I can design a working life for myself that is focused entirely on working with a few early stage companies, whether that is in a smaller partnership or something more individualized.”

Alsop, who remains a venture investor at NEA, has decided that he’s no angel, but is instead raising a formal fund for a small partnership called Agenda Capital. In an email response, Alsop confirmed he is trying to form a fund. But he says he is “not ready to discuss it yet.” Presumably, the fund would focus on digital media or consumer technologies, where Alsop has mostly focused his attention in the past.

Alsop – who joined NEA in 1996 as a venture partner and was promoted to GP two years later – led NEA’s investment in Tivo and sat on the board of the company, which provides digital video recording services. NEA participated in three of the four venture rounds of Tivo, which went public in 1999 in an $88 million offering.

Alsop also involved NEA in Visto Corp., a company selling “push” enterprise email that has raised seven rounds of funding and is currently seeking an eighth. Visto has raised roughly $160 million so far from NEA and other investors.

“He wants to do something that’s special to his interests and don’t involve a large fund or anything like that,” says NEA co-founder and General Partner Dick Kramlich. “He wants to focus on his areas of expertise.”

One wonders how much time Alsop has to raise cash. As a venture investor at NEA, Alsop still sits on the boards of five companies: Zinio, which sells a wide number of magazines in digital format; Xfire, whose popular social networking software is used by gamers; Sorrent, a wireless entertainment publisher; NextHop Technologies, which sells IP routing software to big enterprises; and Boingo Wireless, a company that sells Wi-Fi roaming service.

Kramlich says that Alsop no longer works out of NEA’s Menlo Park, Calif., offices, but reports on his startups at Monday morning partner meetings. He adds, “Stewart left under good graces, I can assure you; we think very well of him and admire his talent.”

Prior to NEA, Alsop served as executive vice president of InfoWorld Publishing Co. Inc. and was the founder of Industry Publishing Co., which produced Agenda, an annual summit for tech executives.