The Young and Proven Biotech VCs From 2012. Where Are They Now?

2/10/14Follow @xconomy

One of the old saws in journalism is to “follow the money” when you’re looking for a story. But sometimes you learn even more by following the people.

The people, in this case, are biotech venture capitalists. Regular readers of this column know that biotech VC has been going through a historic shakeout the last few years. The institutional investors who back VCs have gotten fed up with the long investment timelines, high degree of risk, and limp returns from this group of well-compensated asset managers. Not surprisingly, many VC firms have been unable to continue to raise new funds, and have turned into zombies.

Back in October 2012, I wondered which of the partners were most likely to survive the downturn and continue backing smart biotech entrepreneurs with big ideas. I surmised that the “young and proven” were most likely to persevere, because they were young enough (54 and under) to realistically sign up for another 10-12 year lifespan for a new venture fund, and proven enough (with at least 3 portfolio winners) to inspire confidence among the limited partners who supply the necessary cash.

This past week, I decided to follow up and track down the 40 members of that original class of “young and proven” biotech VCs.

Turns out, this group wasn’t quite the rock of stability I thought it might be.

Of that original group of 40, at least eight of them (20 percent) have left their prior employers. Some have switched firms, others have switched careers. A few appear to have gotten new titles of what may be mostly cosmetic significance. Some of the VCs on the list below have remained active, and raised new funds (OrbiMed, Atlas, 5AM, Frazier Healthcare to name a few). But several of the firms have been awfully quiet the past couple years.

Thong Le

Thong Le, CEO of Accelerator

Some of the career moves “seem to suggest a shift among the younger, more talented investors to funds or organizations that have better long-term viability (and bigger, more stable pools of capital to invest,” says Thong Le, a member of the “young and proven” who was recently named CEO of Accelerator, a venture-backed biotech startup operation. “The other thing I am seeing is that some long-time partners are taking leadership roles at strategic investors where there appears to be more ’white space opportunity‘ to shape a new investment program.”

Robert Nelsen, the longtime managing director at Arch Venture Partners, said he thinks there has been greater than usual turnover in the biotech VC ranks the past couple years. Turnover is “probably close to 50 percent if you get out into the rest of healthcare,” Nelsen says.

With that, here’s the list of the “young and proven” from October 2012, and where they are now. I wasn’t able to find a couple people, so if you’re reading this, let me know and I’ll update the chart below.

Name Job in October 2012 Job in February 2014
Noubar Afeyan Managing Partner, Flagship Ventures Same
Gaurav Aggarwal Partner, Panorama Capital ??
Brent Ahrens Managing Director, Canaan Partners Same
Srini Akkaraju Managing Director, New Leaf Venture Partners General Partner, Sofinnova Ventures
Joseph Anderson Partner, Abingworth Same
Bruce Booth Partner, Atlas Venture Same
Mike Carusi General Partner, Lightstone Ventures Same
Brian Chee General Partner, Polaris Partners Managing Partner, Polaris Partners
Doug Cole General Partner, Flagship Ventures Same
Alan Crane General Partner, Polaris Partners Partner, Polaris Partners
Anupam Dalal Partner, Kearny Venture Partners Managing Director, Kearny Venture Partners
Francesco De Rubertis Partner, Index Ventures Same
Ryan Drant General Partner, NEA Same
Bryant Fong Managing Director, Burrill Venture Capital Managing Director, Biomark Capital
Nick Galakatos Managing Director, Clarus Ventures Same
Carl Gordon Partner, OrbiMed Advisors Same
James Healy General Partner, Sofinnova Ventures Same
Patrick Heron General Partner, Frazier Healthcare Ventures Same
Wende Hutton Managing Director, Canaan Partners Same
Dan Janney Managing Director, Alta Partners Same
Alison Kiley Director, Alta Partners ??
Nina Kjellson Managing Director, InterWest Partners Same
Garheng Kong General Partner, Sofinnova Ventures Managing Partner, Sofinnova HealthQuest
Thong Le Managing Director, WRF Capital CEO, Accelerator
Heath Lukatch Partner, Novo Ventures Same
Dayton Misfeldt Investment partner, Bay City Capital Managing Director, Bay City Capital
Bob More General Partner, Frazier Healthcare Ventures Senior Advisor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Amir Nashat General Partner, Polaris Partners Managing Partner, Polaris Partners
Robert Nelsen Managing Director, Arch Venture Partners Same
Brendan O’Leary General Partner, Prism VentureWorks Same
Adele Oliva Partner, Quaker Partners Same
Deepa Pakianathan General Partner, Delphi Ventures Same
Bryan Roberts Partner, Venrock Same
Bijan Salehizadeh Managing Director, Navimed Capital Same
Camille Samuels Managing Director, Versant Ventures Board member of Achaogen, Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Carmenta Bio
David Schnell Managing Director, Prospect Venture Partners Same
Andy Schwab General Partner, 5AM Ventures Same
Jonathan Silverstein Partner, OrbiMed Advisors Same
Risa Stack Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers General Manager, GE Emerging Health Innovations
Jamie Topper General Partner, Frazier Healthcare Ventures Same

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