Biotech bonanza helps Bessemer roll out a $1.6B venture fund

Bessemer Venture Partners is rolling out a global fund with $1.6 billion to invest in a range of new technologies--including biotech.

Best known for investing in some high-profile tech seedlings that grew into some big oaks, like Skype, Bessemer has been a busy biotech investor over the years as well. Its biotech portfolio includes Cerulean ($CERU), Aveo, Alnara and Verastem (Christoph Westphal). Big plays of the past include Isis ($ISIS) and Affymax and Sirtris (Westphal again, who knows how to make his partners happy). And Bessemer has been following up on some close relationships in the business, joining some more recent startup syndicates for companies like Stromedix--bought by Biogen Idec ($BIIB)--Allena and Alcresta, where it once again partnered up with Third Rock and Frazier.

BVP IX follows a busy time for BVP VIII, with the partners reportedly counting 35 new investments and 21 exits, including IPOs for Cerulean and Proteon Therapeutics ($PRTO).

Bessemer's Byron Deeter

"We work roughly on a four-year cycle. We were coming to the end of BVP VIII and we like to plan ahead and will start investing in this fund (BVP IX) in the summer time frame, so we don't slow down our investing pace," partner Byron Deeter told TechCrunch. Bessemer has teams based in Boston, New York, Silicon Valley, India, Brazil and Israel.

Bessemer is topping up a new fund at a propitious time. New Enterprise Associates is putting together its own $2.5 billion fund, which follows new raises for the full slate of VCs still active in the wake of the 2008 crisis. With the IPO market still open to strong contenders, a tsunami of exits had opened the door to new funds like these--which promise to fill the sails of a fleet of new upstarts.

"This is an exciting time," Bessemer notes in its release. "In almost every sector of technology, we see disruption as whole categories are reinvented and new categories born. As investors, we are believers in the transformative power of technology. Our mission is to back the world's most talented entrepreneurs to help them build big businesses and dominate markets."

- here's the report from TechCrunch
- here's the release

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