Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You: The Untold Story of How a San Diego VC Backed Broadway’s Jersey Boys

12/31/08Follow @bvbigelow

Among San Diego’s venture capitalists, I’d say that Kevin Kinsella ranks among the foremost riskophiles. Since the formation of his first Avalon Ventures fund some 25 years ago, he has shown a willingness to take chances where even angels fear to tread—and an uncanny knack for making the right bet. Kinsella’s success in backing—and often founding—early stage ventures such as Sequana Therapeutics and Aurora Biosciences (which was acquired by Boston’s Vertex Pharmaceuticals) prompted The New York Times to crown him “the P.T. Barnum of biotech.”

The title is especially fitting these days, since Kinsella has been basking in the extraordinary success of his investment in the musical “Jersey Boys,” which opened on Broadway in late 2005. It may be one of the great, untold stories of venture lore, and Kinsella shared it with me during a long-distance call from Hawaii just before Christmas.

For those who don’t get out of the office much, Jersey Boys re-enacts the mostly true story of three working-class Italian tough guys from New Jersey and a fourth from the Bronx who became The Four Seasons, one of the best-selling groups in pop-music history.

The show, which is still playing strong at New York’s August Wilson Theater, went on to win four 2006 Tony Awards, including best musical. The play was such a runaway hit that additional productions were created, so it’s possible now to see Jersey Boys at theaters in London, Toronto, Chicago, and Las Vegas, with a traveling show in Denver that is scheduled to open in Boston this July.

“The investment in Jersey Boys is certainly among the best I’ve ever made,” says Kinsella—comparable … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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