Random Ramblings: Draper Atlantic, Apax & Ben Stein

Just some notes as I combat jetjag, following a weekend wedding in Los Angeles… 

*** Draper Atlantic Ventures seems to have lost its Draper. The firm just began marketing for its $200 million-targeted third fund, under the name New Atlantic Ventures. It also has launched a new website that contains no mention of its original affiliation. Neither the firm nor Tim Draper responded to inquiries as to whether the de-affiliation is legit or just cosmetic. Either way, it’s not terribly surprising. Lots of startup firms leverage third-party affiliations for funds one and two, and then drop off once they get more established. In related news, partner Jim Lynch is not involved on the third fund, nor is he listed on the website. 

*** Greg Case and Paul Vais are planning to leave Apax Partners at year-end, as the firm’s U.S. operation continues to move away from early-stage investing. Case leads the firm’s U.S. financial and business services group, and serves on the boards of such companies as The Learning Annex, Paladin Holdings, Planview and Princeton Softech. Vais is a Menlo Park-based co-head of Apax’s U.S. technology and telecom group. His current board seats include InnovaLight, Silicon Optix and TvHead. No word yet on their future plans, or if others with early-stage inclinations could follow suit. 

In related news, Apax continues to raise its U.S. fund, which is a follow-up to $1.1 billion Excelsior VI fund closed in 2000. According to CalSTRS, Excelsior VI had a 10.88% IRR as of Sept. 30, 2005, with around 83% of capital already called. The new fund has secured over $1 billion in commitments, with a final close slated to occur near year-end. 

*** A pair of Bay State energy investors have changed addresses. Dan Goldman, former CFO of New Energy Capital, has taken a job heading up finance for GreatPoint Energy. Great guy taking a great job. Dan is one of the area’s best-networked clean-tech gurus, and GreatPoint is one of the precious few VC-backed companies in the clean coal market. 

Also, Michael Gee has joined the energy group of American Capital in Dallas, after having been a VP in the Needham, Mass., office of Energy Investors Funds (EIF Group). He was responsible for fund-raising with EIF, and also helped lead the firm’s recent acquisition of a 74% stake in Tenaska Washington Partners and a 100% interest in Burney Forest Products. 

*** Ernst & Young and VentureOne reported that €962.4 million was disbursed to 213 European companies in Q2 2006. This is 13% capital bump over Q2 2005, although deal volume was down by 30 percent. 

*** One week after The New Yorker argued for the impropriety of management buyouts of public companies, Ben Stein goes one step further in a NY Times piece. He suggests that they could be illegal