internet.com Preps Fund, Closes Deals

Spanning the globe for seed-stage Internet investment opportunities, internet.com recently closed on first round deals in Latin America and Taiwan. In addition, the firm plans to launch a China-focused venture capital fund. Of the 15 companies that have received financing from the $15 million internet.com Venture Fund II, four are now based outside of the United States.

“I don’t have a preconceived notion of geography,” said Alan Meckler, chief executive of internet.com. “All things being equal, there is a good chance of devoting more of Fund II abroad, and we are raising a special fund just for mainland China.”

Meckler said the Chinese fund, as well as internet.com Venture Fund III, which has a target between $50 million and $75 million, will be raised early this year. Fund II is approximately 75% invested. The firm will open an office in Beijing by mid-January.

“Because of concerns from some of our limited partners, we could not invest more of Fund II in China,” he said. “We expect to attract the same group of investors for the China fund, but they will know the capital is going exclusively to Chinese-based companies.”

The firm recently invested in Taiwan-based Gourmetnet.com, a Chinese language content provider that offers recipes, reviews and related e-commerce services. Gourmetnet.com is an atypical investment for internet.com in that it is not focused on business-to-business e-commerce.

“This is more business-to-consumer then we usually do, but it is an exceptional business that has been running for years,” he said. “There is an opportunity to merge the business with a Chinese-language portal if the company does not go public.”

The firm also closed a deal in LatinVision.com. The company, which currently has offices in Buenos Aires and New York, provides U.S. and Latin America-based companies with local business directories, new and information travel services and an e-commerce marketplace.

As is the case with all internet.com portfolio companies, Meckler said Gourmetnet.com and Latinvision.com will leverage the company’s network of Web sites, electronic newsletters and discussion groups.