Two camps of ex-49ers aim to score with FoFs

In the San Francisco Bay Area, former San Francisco 49ers turned investment pros are raising two separate funds-of-funds.

In Danville, Calif., Northgate Capital has raised $125 million of a new $600 million fund-of-funds, according to a recent regulatory filing. Backers include the Surdna Foundation, Carleton College and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The partners of Northgate have also raised $100 million for a fund called NCD Partners IV, with investors including Westwood Holdings, the Rogers Revocable Trust, the Charles Bronfman Trust and the Eli & Edythe L. Broad Foundation.

Meanwhile, across the Bay in Woodside, Calif., HRJ Capital is keeping its drive alive with a $112.5 million fifth “growth” fund, according to a recent regulatory filing. That brings HRJ’s total capital commitments to $863 million spread over 13 funds. The filing counts 93 investors, including Brighton Jones Growth Capital in Seattle, individual investor Randall Winters of Northbrook, Ill., and U.S. broker-dealer ELK Capital Advisors, also of Northbrook.

Both of the FoFs have invested in numerous brand name funds. Prior Northgate funds have invested in Accel Partners, Bain Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates and Sequoia Capital, among others. HRJ has gained access to Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital and Summit Partners. However, it appears that Northgate and HRJ have each been excluded from Sequoia’s newest early stage fund, Sequoia Capital XII, which is said to have rejected investments from virtually all FoFs.

Representatives of HRJ and Northgate did not respond to requests for comments.

Northgate, which was founded in 2000, closed a $157 million fund in January 2005 and reported it was three times oversubscribed. The firm capped Northgate Venture Partners II to ensure that it could confidently invest in 15 to 20 top tier VC firms. Fund III would be more than three times larger and is titled Northgate Private Equity Partners III, suggesting the firm may expand its mandate beyond venture firms to invest in private equity.

Three of Northgate’s five managing directors played in the NFL—Mark Harris, Brent Jones and Thomas Vardell. The other two managing directors are Jared Stone, who was previously an investor at the buyout firm Bain Capital, and Hosein Khajeh-Hosseiny, a onetime executive at McKinsey Investment Office who joined the firm in 2004. The firm used to have 49ers quarterback Steve Young on the firm’s roster, but he left to join Utah-based Sorenson Capital in 2003.

HRJ, f.k.a. Champion Ventures, was co-founded by the other 49ers Super Bowl quarterback Joe Montana in 1999 with teammates Harris Barton and Ronnie Lott. Montana has since left the firm. In addition to Lott and Barton, who are the only HRJ employees listed as beneficial owners in the regulatory filing, the firm has a staff of 26, including Duran Curis, formerly of LGT Capital, who heads up its buyout practice, and Darren Wong, head of its venture capital practice. Wong joined in 2004 from GIC Special Investments, the private equity arm of the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. —Alexander Haislip