After A Near 20-Year Break, Pittsford Ventures Seeks $400M Pool

After a near 20-year hiatus from fundraising, Pittsford Ventures Management is back in the market with a new pool, this one earmarked for emerging markets.

The fund, the firm’s fifth, is expected to raise $400 million and could hit $500 million, sources say. A first close is expected in April when the fund could total $75 million, a person says.

New York-based Pittsford is a special situation firm with a VC focus. The firm targets cleantech, healthcare, informatics, and telecommunications. Pittsford has identified potential investments in a U.S. drug discovery firm that targets HIV and certain cancers, as well as a Russian company that has developed water purification technology, according to a Pittsford pitch letter obtained by peHUB.

The new fund would be focused on India, China and Brazil. “There is a strong opportunity to do well in emerging markets,” the source says.

Recently, Pittsford was named one of the most consistently high-performing venture firms on record, according to Preqin third-quarter data. Each of Pittsford’s funds made Preqin’s top quartile and achieved a “best possible” ranking of 1.00, surpassing more notable firms such as Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia.

However, Pittford’s last fund came in 1991. That pool, which raised $73.7 million, was wound up in the “early 2000s” (the blended rate of return for the fund was 32%, the source says). The bust, along with personal/family medical issues involving the firm’s founder, Logan Cheek, stalled fundraising for nearly a decade. Cheek helped raise four successful funds for Pittsford and has resumed his focus on fundraising. “He’s back,” the source says.

Still, the new fund has been beset by setbacks. Pittsford began fundraising for pool No. 5 in March 2008 but stopped because of the credit crisis. The firm relaunched efforts in the spring.  Pittsford was using a placement agent for the pool but the New York “pay to play” scandal restricted access to state pension funds. “Placement agents couldn’t talk to public pension funds,” the source says. Pittsford is no longer using a placement agent.

Officials for Pittsford declined comment.