Guggenheim Partners raising early stage VC fund

Guggenheim Partners, a 10-year-old money management firm with assets in fixed income, real estate, hedge fund and commercial aircraft, has held what is believed to be a first close of $49.5 million for an early stage venture capital fund, according to a regulatory filing.

Helped by the Zurich-based placement agent Moravia Capital, the fund, which had a $10 million initial close in the summer, has raised the money from nine investors, including the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System. The debut fund, called Guggenheim Technology Ventures I, is reportedly targeted at $150 million.

The firm’s managing directors include Michael Burns and Eric Rothfus. Both were formerly partners at TL Ventures, where among their other director positions, they sat together on the board of wireless communications startup Airwalk Communications in Richardson, Texas. After they left the firm, they were replaced on the Airwalk board by TL Ventures’ co-founder Bob Keith.

Burns and Rothfus are based just outside Philadelphia. Guggenheim Partners also operates offices in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, London, Hong Kong and Geneva.

Several weeks ago, the firm expanded into India by acquiring the India-focused private equity fund of funds operated by Thomas Weisel Partners. The fund, called Thomas Weisel India Opportunity Fund, retained the Thomas Weisel managers.

Guggenheim Partners traces its heritage to the Guggenheim family, known best for the Guggenheim museums in New York, Venice, Berlin, Bilboa, Spain and Abu Dhabi. According to the firm’s website, its venture investors are focused on early stage and “restart” tech companies, including optical, electronic and power components.

It also focuses on opportunities in networking, telecommunications, digital media and the Internet. —Constance Loizos