Although unrelated to the recent failure of Pluris Inc., some of the optical networking company’s senior players are moving on to greener pastures.
The most notable is David Britts, a general partner with JPMorgan Partners (JPMP) and Pluris board member. In a move to be announced Tuesday, Britts is leaving JPMP for a partnership position with fellow Pluris investor ComVentures.
“A lot of people have asked me why I’d want to go to a firm focused on communications when the market is in the toilet, and I’ve told them that ComVentures knows more about the space than other teams because it’s all they do,” Britts says. “I really like that laser focus.”
He adds that he had spurned earlier attempts to get him away from JPMP, but that the ComVentures offer proved irresistible. “It was one of those things where I turned to my wife and said, Good news is ComVentures called; bad news is ComVentures called.'”
Britts will maintain his Metro-Optix Corp. board seat, and retain observer rights with three other JPMP portfolio companies for at least the next year.
As for the demise of Pluris, Britts believes that the failure was unavoidable given the recent problems of communications equipment companies like WorldCom and Qwest. “We thought that we were in the darkest hour back in January, but things have gotten a lot darker,” he says. “The carriers were saying great things, but with the company burning as much money as it was per month, to cross the desert required just too much money for a syndicate of three funds [JPMP, ComVentures and Crescendo Venture Management].”
Ringo Bounces Back… Again
Also trading places is Cynthia Ringo, who joined Pluris as interim CEO in May. Ringo landed the Pluris gig after being laid off from Blueprint Ventures, but the former CopperCom chief has scored a new VC gig with VantagePoint Venture Partners. According to multiple sources, Ringo will become a partner at the San Bruno, Calif.-based firm this fall. A VantagePoint spokeswoman confirms the news but says an official statement would not be made until around Labor Day.
The Ringo hiring is part of an overall move to grow VantagePoint, and not related to the June departure of investment professional Matt Ocko.
“I left because I wanted to focus on more global investments,” Ocko says. “I think it’s painfully clear that the drivers of prosperity-and the core technology talent-in Silicon Valley are coming from overseas.”
To that end, Ocko is toying with the possibility of launching a new venture fund focused on global investing. He adds that he recognizes the difficulty of raising a fund in 2002, but that he thinks the institutional investors would be interested in a global offering with equitable limited partnership parameters.
Contact Dan Primack