Boston Venture Firms on the Move: A Roundup of Who’s Heading West (to CA), and Who’s Heading East (to Cambridge)

5/19/11Follow @bbuderi

Updated, see below—The January 2009 announcement by Y Combinator that it was leaving the Boston area and moving full-time to Silicon Valley gave a real jolt to the local innovation community. Then, only a few months later, Greylock Partners dropped a similar bombshell. The storied venture firm, arguably in the elite of the elite alongside Accel Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Sequoia Capital, and the only one based in New England, said in May that it was shifting its headquarters to the San Francisco Bay Area, where it had long had an office—though, unlike Y Combinator, Greylock said it would keep its Boston area office open.

Since then, while no other Boston-based venture firm that I know of has moved its HQ west, several have opened offices in the Valley, joining others, like Advanced Technology Ventures and Highland Capital Partners, that had already opened digs there.

Meanwhile, another group of venture firms—encompassing some of the same companies—began moving into Boston or Cambridge from the Route 128 burbs (usually, though not always, from the famed Winter Street office park that has long constituted the Sand Hill Road of Boston).

You can point to several factors for the moves, from leases coming due to the shrinkage of some funds and the need to quit big office spaces. But whether heading west to California or east into Cambridge and Kendall Square, the bottom line was the same: the desire to shimmy up closer to deal flow and the entrepreneurs on whom the venture capitalists’ jobs depended. In some sense, it was back to the future here in Boston, since many venture firms were originally based downtown and moved out to Waltham and environs as the Route 128 corridor sprang to high-tech life.

These comings and goings have been noted in each instance, sometimes with a lot of commentary, angst, and even applause. If you’re like me, though, you’ve had trouble keeping track of it all—including what has already happened and what is still planned. So here is my timeline of venture capitalists on the move—in two groups. One is for those who have opened offices in the Bay Area, the other for firms who have moved operations closer to the action here in Cambridge. The starting point is January 2009, when Paul Graham announced Y Combinator’s Cambridge pullout.

Venture Firms Head West

—January 2009: Y Combinator, which previously alternated between summer programs in Cambridge, MA, and winter camps in Mountain View, CA, announces it will stay in Silicon Valley year round.

—May 2009: Greylock Partners says it will shift headquarters to Silicon Valley. As of August 2010, the firm has been based on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park.

2010 — I can’t find any firm moves that took place last year. But that September, … Next Page »

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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