Two DFJ funds go solo

The Draper Fisher Jurvetson affiliate network has lost two members, as Draper Atlantic Ventures and DFJ New England have combined into an independent entity known as New Atlantic Ventures.

“We were the first affiliate fund to use the Draper name,” explains John Backus, a founding partner of Draper Atlantic Ventures and managing partner of New Atlantic. “But we felt that the time had come for us to go out and build our own brand.”

Backus and Tim Draper had been fraternity brothers at Stanford University, and it was Draper who suggested to Backus that his firm use the DFJ brand while raising his inaugural fund in 1999. Backus’ original partners have since left. Dan Rua is now with Inflexion Partners in Florida, while Jim Lynch departed just prior to the recent merger. But the firm has continued to have strong DFJ ties. For example, fellow New Atlantic Managing Partner Thanasis Delistathis had gone to high school with DFJ’s Andreas Stacropolous, and to business school with Jennifer Fonstad.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we do deals with [DFJ] in the future,” Delistathis says.

New Atlantic Ventures has four managing partners, including Backus and Delistathis in Reston, Va., and former DFJ New England co-founders Todd Hixon and Scott Johnson in Cambridge, Mass. Each office will continue to manage its legacy funds on its own, but will work together on securing commitments for a new $200 million-targeted vehicle. Neither Backus nor Delistathis would discuss fund-raising, citing regulatory restrictions.

Draper Atlantic previously raised two funds, which each were capped at about $70 million. It made several defunct B2C Internet plays, but also has had recent successes, such as the $145 million IPO of DivX (Nasdaq: DIVX) in September and the $400 million sale of Mobile365 to Sybase. In the case of Mobile365, Draper Atlantic’s original $1.5 million investment (plus a small amount of pro rata follow-on) returned $44 million.

DFJ New England only raised a $21 million inaugural fund in 2001, and had begun marketing for a follow-on before being approached for the merger. —Dan Primack