Kettle Moves To Back Burner

Kettle Partners is about to leave the building.

The Chicago-based firm, which has invested in early-stage IT companies since 1997, will not make any new investments out of its second fund and has nixed the possibility of raising a third vehicle.

Kettle co-founders David Semmel and Lee Rosenberg are still managing the current portfolio, while fellow co-founder Mark Achler has held onto two board seats despite having left Kettle last summer to become president of health care risk management startup Rightfield Solutions LLC.

Neither Semmel nor Rosenberg returned requests for comment on either the impending shutdown or their future plans. Achler also declined to discuss the partnership breakup, but did say that he was pleased to return to an operating career that has included the founding of companies like Kinesoft Development Corp., Imagination Pilots Inc., The Whitewater Group Inc. and Computers Etc.

“I had some offers from other VC firms and some CEO opportunities, but really like the situation here at Rightfield,” he explains, adding that the company recently closed on a $4.1 million second round of angel funding.

Achler is still serving on the boards of Kettle portfolio companies SurePayroll Inc. and Novarra Inc., while Rosenberg remains on the FullAudio Inc. board. The Kettle Partners Web site still lists 11 active portfolio companies, although at least two no longer have Web sites or working phone numbers.

Moreover, the site also lists CopperCom Inc., which filed for bankruptcy last summer, and Emperative Inc., which was sold last November to an undisclosed company.

No current performance information is available for Kettle’s $58.5 million second fund (vintage 2000), although a California Public Employees’ Retirement System report dated June 30, 2003 shows that the fund was nearly 60% called down with no returned capital and a net IRR of -50.6 percent.