Weathergage Closes $250M FoF

UPDATE:  Sandra Wallis is a Managing Principal of Weathergage.
Four former principal investors of Knightsbridge Advisors, a fund-of-funds focused on U.S. venture capital, closed their first new fund-of-funds and blew past their target after six months of fund-raising.

Managing Principals Judith Elsea, Tim Bliamptis, Brad Hammond and Sandra Wallis, co-founders of Weathergage Venture Capital Management Partners, said last week that they closed on $250 million in commitments after about six months of fund-raising.

Each of the investors had worked at least five years at Knightsbridge before they left separately sometime after June 2006 to launch the new FoF, which will invest in venture funds.

The news of Weathergage comes as fund-raising fell last year for funds-of-funds. In 2006, 77 fund-of-funds raised almost $21 billion during 2006, a 15% drop from the 94 funds that raised $24.5 billion during 2005, according to Thomson Financial (publisher of PE Week).

Meanwhile, a slump in fund-raising isn’t the only issue affecting the asset class. Funds-of-funds managers face the likelihood of getting booted from top-notch VC limited partner slots, as Sequoia Capital reportedly did to funds-of-funds looking to get into the firm’s 12th fund. Sources say that Sequoia was unhappy about some FoFs that used the Sequoia brand to market their own funds to investors and, in essence, made Sequoia compete with itself.

Still, Weathergage’s partners have no dearth of experience. Bliamptis co-lead Brinson Partners and managed a $10 billion alternative asset portfolio before joining Knightsbridge. Elsea was previously the chief investment officer of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for eight years, where she managed a $2 billion portfolio. Hammond was a lawyer at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati and made partner at Oklahoma law firm Crowe & Dunlevy.

Joel Romines, the founder of Knightsbridge and the only managing principal to remain, moved fast to fill the holes in his team. He hired Barbara Piette in September as a managing principal. Piette joined from Blackwood Capital, where she was a president and had worked since 2000.

Weathergage isn’t the only fund-of-funds on the fund-raising route. PE Week previously reported about the launch of Vedanta Venture Capital, a New York-based private equity fund-of-funds at the beginning of the year. The firm has previously filed to raise up to $300 million from investors, though a recent regulatory filing lists its initial target as $27.75 million. Vedanta was co-founded by three departees of Invesco Private Capital, including noted VC Parag Saxena.