Douvos Joins FoFs; To Open Palo Alto Office

Firm: Venture Investment Associates

Fund: Venture Investment Associates VII LP

Target: $225 million

“Super LP” Chris Douvos has found a place to land, at the Peapack, N.J.-based Venture Investment Associates.

His presence is likely to help as the low-profile fund of funds raises a new pool, a planned $230 million Venture Investment Associates VII LP, earmarked for a mix of venture capital, growth equity and buyout funds, a source told Buyouts.

Douvos has been at loose ends since May, when he left the limited partner The Investment Fund for Foundations after seven years. Douvos, as co-head of the private equity division, helped the West Conshohocken, Pa.-based fund of funds deploy nearly $2 billion on behalf of its clients, a group of nearly 800 private foundations, education-related institutions, community foundations and others.

A popular speaker on the conference circuit, Douvos also writes a blog, “Super LP,” in which he opines on issues in GP relationships. Douvos said he plans to continue the blog while he works with VIA. In one recent post, Douvos offered a meditation on value investing: “Perhaps businesses are better thought of as portfolios of options, some of which are very long-dated and way out-of-the-money. And maybe the central wonder of the American economy, with California as its exemplar, is that it offers the best framework for capturing the random forward lurch of progress?”

Where TIFF had a balanced mandate, investing both in venture capital and buyouts, VIA is more emphatically focused on growth investing, although it too considers both venture capital and buyout fund managers.

“One thing that’s distinctive about VIA is how excited we are about entrepreneurship as the very idea of America,” Douvos told Buyouts in an interview. “I’ve got a lot of time for people who are doing interesting and quirky things.”

Douvos will establish a Palo Alto office for VIA, which is expected to open in mid to late 2012. He is joined in the firm’s West Coast outpost by Jennifer Acker Ayer, a principal in the firm who previously was the marketing director at fixed income investment boutique Samson Capital Advisors of New York. Douvos said Ayer relocated to Silicon Valley in April.

VIA was founded in 1993 by Stathis Andris to manage the venture capital and buyout fund interests of American Express Co. He remains president of the GP of all of the VIA funds. LPs included the endowment arms of Yale University and Stanford University. The firm launched its first independent fund of funds, Fund II, in 1994 to maintain those relationships, said Jason Andris, a managing director and son of the founder. VIA’s LP base today includes non-profit organizations, families and corporate pension plans.

Douvos becomes the fourth managing director at VIA. “We’ll be bi-coastal,” Jason Andris said. “Chris will be very much additive on all fronts.”

VIA is investing out of its Venture Investment Associates VI LP fund, a $225 million pool that closed in 2007. The firm works with about 20 fund managers representing a variety of venture capital, growth equity and buyout strategies, Andris said. VIA typically invests $5 million with a new manager but up to $25 million to $30 million for funds where VIA has an established relationship with the GP.

The new fund is expected to be similarly sized, said the source with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified because of regulatory restrictions.