Polaris hires Pfizer general counsel Schulman as venture partner

Polaris Partners, which is in the market for a $400 million seventh fund, has brought on board a noted healthcare general counsel.

The Waltham, Mass.-based firm, which invests in tech and life sciences, has named Amy Schulman as a venture partner. Schulman most recently worked as general counsel, EVP and business unit lead of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.

Schulman will take over the role of CEO of Arsia Therapeutics, and she is expected to take on a number of Polaris portfolio company board seats, the firm said in a statement Monday.

At Pfizer, Schulman helped lead the nutrition business, which was sold to Nestle for $11.8 billion, and headed the consumer business which comprised brands like Advil, ChapStick and Emergen-C. She also worked as general counsel, managing a team of 700 legal professionals and overseeing IP, regulatory, transactional and litigation-related issues, Polaris said.

“When I began connecting with the Polaris team, I was struck by the distinct personalities of the individuals and the way in which the partnership encourages different perspectives and points of view,” Schulman said in a statement. “I was drawn to the firm’s nurturing, long-term approach to innovation and company building.”

Polaris’ venture partner program is a way to bring in entrepreneurs and operators and give them a taste of the investing world, according to Emily Mendell, a Polaris spokesperson.

“The goal is for them to be long-term investors, but this is a good and logical first step as they transition over from company leadership,” Mendell said. “But they will play the same role as an investor, will take board seats, and support the portfolio.”

With the hiring of Schulman, Polaris has four venture partners, including Gary Swart, former CEO of oDesk, who will start in September. Also, Pat Kinsel, former co-founder and CEO of search technology firm Spindle, was promoted to venture partner in April from entrepreneur-in-residence. Spindle was acquired by Twitter in June 2013.

Noel Ruane joined Polaris in 2011 and is the firm’s European venture partner based in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to Polaris, Ruane created and managed Launchpad, Ireland’s first tech accelerator program, according to Polaris’ website.

Polaris, meanwhile is in the market targeting $400 million for its seventh fund, peHUB and affiliated publication VCJ reported in June.

The firm has a small stake in real estate website Trulia, which it attained after the company bought Polaris portfolio company Movity in 2010. Rival real estate site Zillow announced Monday it would buy Trulia for $3.5 billion in stock. Because of Polaris’ small stake, a sale “would not move the needle much,” Mendell said.

Photo courtesy of Polaris Partners.