Tango steps into new gig

Jo Tango, who left Highland Capital Partners last year after eight years of service with the firm, has launched a new venture firm called Kepha Partners.

Waltham, Mass.-based Kepha will focus on early stage technology companies and bills itself as a “special forces unit of venture capital,” according to its website. The firm touts a back-to-basics approach to venture investing based on building companies rather than just financing them, which would seem to indicate that Tango will invest in a small number of companies and take a hands-on approach to building them.

Tango, who was unavilable for comment, is the only contact listed on the site. Further details on the fund were not available.

Tango joined Highland Capital in 1998 and sat on the boards of such public companies as Ask Jeeves, Be Free and NextCard. He’s also sat on the boards of Bit9, ExaGrid Systems and Virtual Iron Software.

Tango left Highland last year as a general partner as the firm was putting together its $800 million seventh fund. Before becoming a VC, Tango spent five years with Bain & Co., working in the firm’s private equity groups in Singapore, Hong Kong and Boston.

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 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.

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