Jim Furnivall has left Canaan Partners, where he had focused on IT investments for the past eleven years. The timing makes sense – given that Canaan is in market with its eighth fund – but his destination is surprising: Alterna Capital, a new private equity group focused on “core capital assets that are vital to the transportation, industrial and energy sectors.”
That’s right: Not only is the veteran VC switching asset classes, but he’s also switching sector focus. Not your ordinary personnel move.
Furnivall says that he first began investigating the infrastructure space about 12 months ago, after meeting with an old acquaintance from Citigroup Structured Investments. “He was looking to put together a fund, but wanted to know more about structural general partner/limited partner issues in private equity,” Furnivall explains. “I became more and more excited as time went on, so we formed Alterna with two more of his colleagues.”
All of that sounds dandy, but there is still the issue of Furnivall’s infrastructure experience. Or lack of it. Not only did he never do an infrastructure deal with Canaan (because that’s not what Canaan does), his Canaan track record was mixed. A few hits like Indus River Networks, and some busts like MarketSoft.
Furnivall responds by saying that his initial value will be in understanding firm management – including fundraising and maintaining strong GP/LP relationships. He’ll also continue cramming on the infrastructure – with help from his three partners.
Alterna is targeting $1 billion for its fund with C.P. Eaton serving as placement agent, according to an earlier report in Private Equity Insider. A Canaan spokeswoman declined to discuss fundraising, but did say that Canaan has replaced Furnivall on at least two of the three board seats he held (Warren Lee takes Vivox, while Eric Young takes Enprion).