VC fund briefs, week of Nov. 24, 2008

Polaris launches incubator in San Francisco

Polaris Venture Partners has launched Dog Patch Labs, an incubator it quietly began organizing in San Francisco earlier this year.

The incubator aims to attract a “mixture of some great people” to its “cool loft space” along the city’s waterfront, according to Polaris General Partner Mike Hirshland, who has written about the effort on his blog. Hirshland has been splitting his time between his home in Boston and San Francisco to oversee the effort.

Hirshland explains that the idea of the incubator, according to the new Dog Patch Blog, is to “brainstorm new ideas, share ideas and referrals, and, above all, just hang out together in a fun and relaxed environment… In addition to the Dawgs who work here in the Lab, we also invite a limited number of really interesting puppy entrepreneurs to camp out in our space while they are in the very earliest stages of brewing their next big idea.”

Dog Patch will undoubtedly appeal to plenty of cash-strapped entrepreneurs, who are invited to plop down at an “open desk” at the Lab if they are “working on something really cool,” are “really interesting,” or are “interested in contributing to the Lab and its mission of helping the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

One more caveat. To hang with the “dawgs” at Dog Patch, an entrepreneur also needs to be “fun to have around,” Hirshland blogs. —Constance Loizos

3i to maintain North American presence

Earlier this month, London-based 3i Group announced that it was closing its Menlo Park, Calif.-based office by year-end, as part of a move away from early stage venture investing.

A spokeswoman for the firm last week said: “3i will maintain a core North American team run from our New York office as we continue to believe that there is a strong investment opportunity to partner with businesses across North America and grow their value on an international scale.”

A former VC who worked in the Menlo Park office said that the firm’s appetite for venture investing began diminishing in 2006, despite how the firm had been in the asset class since 2000. “It looked a little impatient, given how long it takes to build a venture firm of substance,” said the source. “But the decision was made.”

David Aslin, once a partner with 3i, joined Nexit Ventures earlier this year. Robin Murray recently joined Adams Street Capital’s venture capital team, making direct investments.

The source speculated that in the “coming few weeks … at least two other” VCs who had worked in 3i’s Menlo Park office will find new jobs at other VC firms.

In the meantime, Kevin Scott, a consulting partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers before joining 3i in 2000, will continue to manage the firm’s portfolio. Part of that means selling some of its assets in a secondary sale, which was expected to be signed late last week. —Constance Loizos

KPG Ventures raises second fund

KPG Ventures announced that it has closed its second fund with an undisclosed amount of capital commitments. The San Francisco-based firm focuses on seed-stage consumer Internet companies.

KPG II is similar in structure to the firm’s first fund, KPG I, which was established in September 2006 with an undisclosed amount.

KPG has invested in SezWho, The Nile Guide Inc., BrightRoll Inc. and Ribbit Corp., which was acquired for $105 million in August by BT Group.

KPG general partners are Vince Vannelli and Dave Hills.

Starfish closes fund II

Starfish Ventures of Australia has closed its second fund with about $115 million in capital commitments.

It will invest in IT, life sciences and cleantech companies.

The firm raised about $100 million for its first fund, which closed in 2004.