True raises fund II

True Ventures, a San Francisco-based early stage firm, has raised $165.5 million toward its second fund, according to a regulatory filing, on its way to a $195 million final target.

The firm may finish fund-raising within the next three weeks, according to a person knowledgeable about the process.

Among the LPs from fund I that came back for the second offering are Paul Capital Top Tier Investments IV, Triremes 18, and Stichting Pensionenfonds ABP, represented by AlpInvest Partners. LPs listed on regulatory filings associated with firm’s first fund include Sequoia Holdings, Park Street Capital Private Equity Fund VII, Argonaut 20 and Ohana Holdings.

True Ventures GPs declined to comment for this story.

The firm has a history of raising sidecar funds to supplement its main offering. It raised a $6 million sidecar from The New York Times Co. and the Stephen G. Woodsum Trust about three months after raising $155 million for its inaugural fund in 2006.

When it was founded two years ago, True Ventures was notable for being part of a burgeoning class of emerging fund managers focused on early stage deals that many investors felt older firms were no longer pursuing. The firm aims to be a young company’s first institutional investor, with initial investments of between $500,000 and $3 million.

The firm has invested in Internet and software startups, such as blogging software company Automattic, instant messaging company Meebo, mobile phone software company ScanR, mobile entertainment company SendMe and online news site GigaOm.

True Ventures has had two if its portfolio companies bought, a rare feat for a firm focused on investing in startups with little or no revenue. In late 2006, True Ventures participated in the $850,000 seed financing of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Maya’s Mom, a social networking site for mothers that Johnson & Johnson subsidiary BabyCenter bought for an undisclosed amount in August 2007. Other investors included Yahoo executives Jeff Ralston and Caterina Fake, SoftTech’s Jeff Clavier and other Internet-focused individual investors.

The firm also sold blog search engine Sphere to America Online for an undisclosed amount in April. In 2005, San Francisco-based Sphere (f.k.a. Yodel Inc.) had raised $4.3 million from Trident Capital, Hearst Corp. and Blacksmith Capital, the precursor to True Ventures. Reports put the AOL acquisition at $25 million.