BlueRun Ventures guns for $350M

BlueRun Ventures, formerly the corporate venture arm of cell phone company Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), is about to launch a $350 million fund-raising drive for its second independent fund, PE Week has learned.

The fund’s target is slightly higher than its previous $315 million fund, raised in 2005, but smaller than its vintage 2000 fund, which weighed in at $500 million when the firm was called Nokia Venture Partners.

BlueRun moved away from Nokia in 2004, when the phone maker decided to launch a growth fund. Nokia Growth Partners, which continues to shares offices with BlueRun in Menlo Park, Calif., manages $200 million in assets, split across a late stage fund and a fund of funds investment vehicle focused on early stage firms.

Although BlueRun has dropped the Nokia name, it kept the Finnish company as its largest limited partner in its third fund, which also raised money from BMC Software, CDBWebTech and Goldman Sachs Group.

BlueRun has contributed to several startups that have recently either gone defunct or sold for undisclosed amounts. The most notable failure was SunRocket. The Vienna, Va.-based Internet telephony company shut down in July, three years after it was launched. The company raised about $80 million in venture funding from BlueRun and other investors starting in 2004.

Among the firm’s exits was Bitfone Corp., which Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) bought for an undisclosed amount last December. Bitfone, a Laguna Niguel, Calif.-based provider of mobile device management software, raised more than $86 million in VC funding since its 2000 inception from BlueRun and others.

Another portfolio company, WLAN technology provider Airgo Networks Inc., was sold to Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) for an undisclosed amount last December. Airgo had raised about $144 million in VC funding since its 2001 inception, including a $55 million Series E tranched deal at a post-money valuation of about $287 million. Backers included BlueRun, Accel Partners, OVP Venture Partners, Oak Investment Partners and Sevin Rosen Funds.

This year, BlueRun has had at least two liquidity events. The firm sold laser networking company Apogee Photonics to CyOptics for an undisclosed amount in March. It had raised about $53 million since 2000. Also, Nokia agreed to buy mobile advertising and marketing company Enpocket for an undisclosed amount in September. Enpocket had raised $17.5 million in VC funding since mid-2002.

Whatever the financial outcome of BlueRun’s undisclosed deals, there’s no disputing it made money on the sale of Internet acceleration company Netli to Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM) for 3.2 million shares valued at $177 million as of last February. The startup had raised $47 million since 2000.

BlueRun has invested $47 million in 18 startups so far this year in China, Israel and the U.S. It added Sash Mirchandani as a senior investment director this summer. Mirchandani focuses on consumer, mobile, media, entertainment and services investments out of Mumbai.