Javelin spears $70M to launch VC fund

While lackluster returns and a difficult fund-raising environment have put the brakes on many venture funds, a new firm plans to make its debut this week.

San Francisco-based Javelin Venture Partners is managed by an angel investor/entrepreneur Noah Doyle, and Jed Katz, a serial entrepreneur who has spent the last four years as a managing director at DFJ Gotham in New York.

Doyle and Katz have raised $70 million in committed capital from one family office, says Doyle, who declined to disclose details of the investor. He adds that the family office will participate in the firm’s discussion over which companies to back.

Javelin, which will back early stage Internet companies, already counts a handful of startup companies in its portfolio, several of which are investments that Doyle had backed as an angel investor. Among the portfolio companies are AdRocket, which provides ad optimization services; SmartZip, a developer of real estate tracking software; and Nuvon, which is developing networking technology for the health care industry.

The firm plans to invest in seed rounds of about $250,000 to $500,000, says Katz, who adds that the firm will consider itself an early stage firm that will more often pour between $1 million and $2 million into a startup’s Series A round, with additional capital set aside for follow-ons.

Katz says it’s too early to say what the firm’s investment pace will be, but he expects the firm to back up to about 20 companies with the first fund.

“We’ll be fairly quick [to make decisions], compared to typical VCs,” he says.

Neither Doyle nor Katz, who met while attending the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, are new to investing. Doyle previously co-founded MyPoints, a provider of Internet marketing services and a customer loyalty network, and which was acquired by United Online for $112 million in 2001.

Soon after he sold MyPoints, Doyle invested in Keyhole Inc., a developer of navigation and mobile commerce mapping software. He joined the startup full-time, and was on board when Google acquired it for an undisclosed price in 2004. He stayed at Google three more years before leaving the company to invest in startups on his own.

Katz, meanwhile, also co-founded a startup. He launched the online rental and relocation service RentNet, which was acquired soon after for an undisclosed price by Cendant Corp.

Several years later, Katz used RentNet’s infrastructure and capital from Cendant to form Move.com, a rental and relocation site that Homestore.com bought in a stock deal valued at $960 million in 2001. Afterward, Katz became the COO of Yamcon, a developer of popular consumer device for would-be astronomers called SkyScout. He then joined DFJ Gotham.

Katz says that he left DFJ Gotham, which is currently raising its second fund, because he wanted to get back to his entrepreneurial roots and he wanted to return to the Bay Area, where he’d lived previously for 15 years.

“My wife’s family is in Sacramento. Mine is in Arizona. We wanted to start a family here instead of New York,” he says.

Javelin isn’t the first new venture fund to appear on the scene in recent months. Freestyle Capital is bootstrapped by serial entrepreneurs Josh Felser and Dave Samuel. Meanwhile, Andreessen Horowitz (started by Netscape Communications co-founder Marc Andreessen and former Opsware CEO Ben Horowitz), is currently raising a $250 million venture fund.

The Javelin partners say that their strength is that the management pairs an entrepreneur without a VC background with an experienced venture capitalist.

“Because we’ve both been entrepreneurs, we aim to be a firm that entrepreneurs really connect with well,” Katz says.