Tango out of Highland’s new fund

General Partner Jo Tango will not be included in Highland Capital Partners’ $800 million seventh fund that it stealthily raised earlier this year, PE Week has learned.

The move comes as the firm is planning to beef up its presence in Silicon Valley by adding four investors to its Menlo Park, Calif., office by the end of the year.

Tango joined Highland Capital in 1998 and has sat on the boards of such public companies as Ask Jeeves, Be Free and NextCard. He’s currently sitting on the boards of Bit9, ExaGrid Systems and Virtual Iron Software. Highland Capital spokesman Michael Gaiss says that Tango will continue working with his portfolio companies until at least the end of the summer.

Highland’s website lists Tango as one of four GPs. The Lexington, Mass.-based firm also has five managing general partners.

Tango’s plans upon leaving Highland Capital are not known. He “wants to do something more entrepreneurial,” Gaiss says. Tango did not respond to telephone calls or emails.

Before Highland Capital, Tango spent five years with Bain & Co., working in the firm’s private equity groups in Singapore, Hong Kong and Boston.

Tango was one of many VCs who got into the business in the late 1990s, as the Internet bubble began to take shape, only to see some of the investments tank

Tango sat on the board of NextCard with Russell Siegelman, who, as previously reported, is leaving Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers after 10 years of investing at the firm.

NextCard – a provider of Internet consumer credit cards – raised about $55 million in venture funding in 1997 and 1998 from Highland Capital, Kleiner Perkins and a host of other investors, including Amazon.com, Brentwood Venture Capital, Comdisco Ventures, Emergence Capital Partners, Lighthouse Capital Partners, Mobius Venture Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia Capital Partners, St. Paul Venture Capital and Trinity Ventures.

San Francisco-based NextCard launched a $120 million IPO in 1999, but the company went out of business in 2003.

However, Highland’s Gaiss was quick to come to Tango’s defense. “Jo’s had some very strong portfolio companies,” he says.

Tango also sat on the board of Digital Market, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based software developer that raised $11 million from 1995 through 1999.

Among the investors of Digial Market were Highland Capital, Altos Ventures, Menlo Ventures and Trinity Ventures, among others. Agile Software acquired Digital Market for $10 million in cash and stock in late 1999.