Amp’d Mobile investor Auerbach joins CRV

Amp’d Mobile may be a career killer for some, but not for Jon Auerbach, the venture capitalist who led the funding for the Mobile Virtual Network Operator while a general partner at Highland Capital Partners.

Auerbach this month left Lexington, Mass.-based Highland for a new gig across town at Charles River Ventures, where he’ll serve as general partner and expand the firm’s wireless practice on the East Coast. Waltham, Mass.-based CRV earlier this year raised nearly $300 million for its 13th fund.

The news of his departure was first reported by peHUB, an online publication affiliated with PE Week.

CRV General Partner Bruce Sachs says that one bad deal, meaning Amp’d, did not diminish Auerbach’s overall portfolio of work.

Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Amp’d Mobile raised about $360 million in venture funding from Highland, Vivendi, Columbia Capital, Intel Capital, Universal Music Group and Redpoint Ventures, among other investors. The company, which launched in 2005, was planning to offer a nationwide service by leasing airtime on wireless networks. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June.

“The venture business is about hit-rate, not about batting .1000,” Sachs says. “Jon explained to us the issues with Amp’d, and it wasn’t a major issue for us. We all lose 1x our money on deals, but what’s important is how many times you can make 2x or 3x or more.”

Auerbach joined Highland as a principal in 2000 after spending more than a decade covering business and technology as a reporter and an editor for The Wall Street Journal. He focused on communications deals, such as Amp’d Mobile, Optasite, Quattro Wireless, Starent Networks (Nasdaq: STAR) and Tatara Systems.

Auerbach is a frequent speaker on wireless trends and technologies and has spoken at conferences for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, and at the Wireless and Communications and Networking Conference and the TiECON Conference.

Auerbach has given up all of his Highland-related board seats to join CRV. He was also previously on the board of Amp’d Mobile.

“The CRV partnership holds the same core values as my own: passion for the entrepreneur, deep domain knowledge of the markets they invest in and a strong work ethic,” Auerbach said in a prepared release.