New Firm Is Keyed In On Lease Space

Bay Colony Center in Waltham, Mass. is close to adding another tenant. The popular office complex already houses such firms as Matrix Partners and Charles River Ventures, and soon may add Key Venture Partners (KVP) to the mix.

If KVP doesn’t sound familiar, it would be because the firm didn’t really exist until three months ago (see PE Week 6/16/03).

That was when senior management at KeyCorp. decided that the Cleveland-based bank’s existing private equity practice – Key Principal Partners – should be paying more attention to venture capital deals.

Up until that point, almost all Key Principal investments were either of the later-stage or buyout variety, save for some one-off transactions being led by managing director and former IBM executive David Dame.

Instead of building a group up around Dame in the VC dead-zone of Cleveland, KeyCorp. approved a Boston-centric relocation plan advocated by bank advisor and veteran investor Joe McCullen.

The bank then went out and complemented Dame with Ted Mocarski, a onetime Edwards & Angell attorney who previously served as a managing director of Fleet Equity Partners and its Nautic Partners (then known as Navis Partners) spinoff.

While Dame and Mocarski are still mulling the possibility of an outside fund-raising drive in 2004 or 2005, they currently have the luxury of a $100 million commitment from KeyCorp.

They are hoping to lead or co-lead Series B-stage deals in IT and communications companies, with average investments between $3 million to $10 million.

They also will maintain their close affiliation with KeyCorp., which could include both research assistance and mezzanine capital assistance for portfolio companies.

KVP has not yet made its first official deal, although it has begun meeting with entrepreneurs and will continue to manage Dame’s existing investments in companies such as Axentis LLC and TechBooks.

Aiding in the efforts are three associates who moved over from Key Principal Partners. They are: Matt Brennan, who joined Key Principal after earning his MBA from University of Chicago; Vaibhav Nalwaya, who joined Key Principal in October 2000; and Brody Strout, who previously worked with Prospect Street Partners.

Email Dan Primack