Early-Stage VCs Raise Funds Aplenty

Several early stage VC firms have been wooing LPs and making assorted levels of progress, PE Week has learned. The smattering of fund-raising is a sign that early stage venture investment is still alive at a time when many established firms are moving towards later stage deals and investments in more mature companies.

One firm that is out there attracting attention from limited partners is O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture firm that has raised about $35 million. The inaugural fund has a target of between $50 million and $70 million. Media information company O’Reilly Media is a general partner of the fund, which is run by Managing General Partners Mark Jacobsen and Bryce Roberts.

Jacobsen is an executive for O’Reilly Media’s New Ventures and Business Development while Roberts is a veteran of Draper Fisher Jurvetson affiliate fund Wasatch Venture Fund.

Also on the fund-raising trail is Silicon Valley’s True Ventures, which was formed recently by five VC veterans. General Partners Phil Black, John Burke and Jon Callaghan head the firm.

Black has served with Blacksmith Capital, ABS Ventures and Summit Partners. Burke also served with Blacksmith and ABS and was the founder, president and CEO of BMI Software. Callaghan is a veteran of Globespan Capital, @Ventures and Summit.

True Ventures is seeking about $100 million for its first fund.

Another firm selling an early stage focus to LPs is Tugboat Ventures, which was founded by former TPG Ventures General Partner Dave Wharton. Wharton declined to speak about the status of Tugboat’s fund-raising efforts.

All three funds follow on the heels of the successful fund-raising of Boston’s Spark Capital. Spark was founded by Todd Dagres, a former film producer and Battery Ventures general partner, and the firm closed on $260 million in its first, oversubscribed fund-raising effort last year.

Spark invests in early stage startups in the media and entertainment industry.

Early stage funds were one of the dominant fund-raisers in the venture industry last year, according to Thomson Financial (publisher of PE Week) and the National Venture Capital Association.

Last year, 95 early stage VC funds accounted for more than $11 billion of the year’s $25 billion total.

Email Matthew.Sheahan@thomson.com