India allure pulls in Matrix

Matrix Partners joined a string of U.S. venture firms to go to India by launching a $150 million fund focused on services and entertainment technology companies.

The firm tapped Avnish Bajaj, the co-founder and former CEO of, which is known as India’s largest online marketplace, and Rishi Navani, a former managing director at Westbridge Capital Partners, to run the fund’s Mumbai offices.

The India venture market has been active this year. Private equity investors poured $1.4 billion into 69 companies in the first quarter, which is more than three times the amount they invested during the same period in 2005, according to Venture Intelligence India. Meanwhile, Westbridge was recently subsumed into Sequoia Capital earlier this year. Details on the deal are still sketchy, but taking on the $200 million Westbridge fund is a strong indication that Sequoia is serious about India.

Other U.S. firms have launched India-focused funds, as well. Draper Fisher Jurvetson is interviewing Indian investors to create IT and life sciences affiliates in India, Managing Director Steve Jurvetson told PE Week in May. The size of the two DFJ Indian funds has not been set, but the two affiliates would be separate from the $200 million India fund Tim Draper mentioned on a trip to the subcontinent last year.

IDG Ventures

, the investment arm of International Data Group, is raising a $150 million India fund, launched in June.

Other firms have opened offices there but pulled short of committing a fund. Canaan Partners, which opened an India office in June, made its first investment there last week. The firm backed Bharat Matrimony Group, an online matrimonial service, with an $8.6 million investment. Bharat charges a monthly subscription fee to arrange marriages. The site has already helped half a million couples find love. The service is a distinctly Indian twist on, another Canaan investment. —Alexander Haislip