Venrock gets lean and mean with $350M venture fund

Smaller and more tightly focused will be the dominant style for Venrock Associates' new venture fund. The venture group--a busy player in the biotech space--says that it closed its new healthcare fund with $350 million--a sharp drop from the $600 million it was able to gather for its last fund launched in 2007.

"We were proactive on the size of the new fund," Bryan Roberts, a Venrock partner, told the Wall Street Journal. "It fell out of who we had (at the firm). If we could find great people to hire, we would, but finding great new investors is hard."

Eight partners will handle the investing work for this fund, down from 15 partners involved in the most recent round of work. But many venture capital firms are downsizing as the average size of new funds dwindles. The National Venture Capital Association says that the number of venture principals has shrunk from 8,892 in 2007 to 6,828 in late 2009.

So far this year Venrock has been able to benefit from three biotech IPOs; Alimera Sciences, AVEO Pharmaceuticals and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals. And it counts a number of drug developers in its portfolio. But IPOs overall have been few and far between over the last two years, and that trend has helped throttle the venture industry's activities. This new fund will concentrate on a broad slate of new technologies ranging from healthcare IT, biofuels and energy systems to software.

- check out the Venrock release
- here's the story from the Wall Street Journal