Rob Theis Scales Up

Rob Theis has joined Scale Venture Partners as a managing director, just months after ending an eight-year run with DCM-Doll Capital Management. An official announcement is expected to come this morning.

Theis is one of the Valley’s better-regarded venture capitalists, with a technology infrastructure and applications focus that included recent DCM wins like NeoPath (acquired by Cisco) and VanceInfo (IPO). He even was named a 2007 “Superstar of Venture Capital” by TheFunded.com (ok, insert cynicism here). On the other hand, he made a big misstep by championing Adam Aircraft, a carbon-composite jet manufacturer that went bankrupt after $182 million in private equity fund.

There has been much speculation that the Adam Aircraft deal sealed Theis’ fate at DCM, but both Theis and DCM’s David Chao said that plans for his departure actually began in May 2007. At the time, Adam was still soaking up loads of money, but was not expected to fail.

“My understanding is that Rob chose to leave because the firm was focusing more and more on investments in Asia, and he wanted to keep focusing on the U.S.,” says Kate Mitchell, a managing director with Scale. “We obviously looked at all his past deals, and really think we’ve added a great investor.”

Mitchell adds that Scale’s relationship with Theis goes back several years. “We did JasperSoft with Rob and DCM, and Rob was an individual investor in Contivo,” she says. There also are connections like Ben Smith, co-founder of Spoke (Theis’ portfolio company with DCM) who now serves as CEO of Scale portfolio MerchantCircle.

Theis himself was on vacation yesterday an unavailable for comment. He officially begins at Scale on May 19.