Garnett & Helfrich Capital is an apt name for the San Mateo, Calif.-based venture buyout firm, because co-founders Terry Garnett and David Helfrich are about all that’s left as another director (the firm’s third employee in the last month) is preparing to leave, PE Week has learned.
The departures began in December when director Mike Guthrie left to join Palo Alto, Calif.-based Symphony Technology Group, a financial holding group that invests in enterprise software and services (and which currently is raising a fund). Guthrie previously co-founded and was a general partner with TPG Ventures and, before that, had been an investment banker with Credit Suisse First Boston. Guthrie did not respond to a request for comment.
At the time of Guthrie’s departure, G&H had been preparing to start raising a $750 million-targeted second fund and Garnett was planning a temporary move to London with his family.
But the fund-raising plans and the overseas move were postponed. A firm spokeswoman insisted that all was copacetic with a “strong team” still in place.
The same spokeswoman is now declining to comment on the fact that two more professionals have left. First to leave was Betty Hung, vice president of portfolio development. She took a similar job with Vista Equity Partners. The next to leave was Mark Barrenechea, a director whose new business address is unknown as of press time. Emails sent to his personal account were not returned.
It is unclear whether Neeraj Gunsagar and Grace Koo, the firm’s two associates, remain. The firm has also deleted the “team” page from its website.
Those close to the situation say that one factor in the shakeup may be the managerial and financial control held by Garnett and Helfrich, but they add that the situation was transparent from the beginning.
“Their names are on the door, so it’s not accurate to say people were surprised by the level of economics or control they have,” one source says. “They could have named the firm after a lake or a tree, but they didn’t.”
The firm was founded in 2004 with an inaugural $250 million fund. The fund was later expanded to $350 million.
Among its investments, G&H acquired mobile phone company Celunite, which has most of its operations in India, for $30 million last fall. The deal was the firm’s latest move in India, where it was planning to open an office this year. When Barrenechea joined the firm last summer it was after stints of managing Indian operatiosn for Computer Associates and Oracle Corp. Other G&H portfolio companies with operations in India include Wyse Technology, which makes low cost “thin” computers, and Ingres Corp., which is an open-source database company.