VC firm Mohr Davidow closing Seattle office

After less than three years in the Puget Sound region, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures will close its Seattle office and reduce its latest fund by 33 percent.

The reduction, Mohr Davidow’s second, will leave the fund with $450 million. A year ago, the firm reduced the size of its $840 million fund to $670 million.

The closure of Mohr Davidow’s local office comes little more than a month after Atlas Venture, another large Silicon Valley firm, shuttered its office and returned nearly $370 million to its limited partners.

The office, which has a staff of three, will be scaled back over the next six months, said Bill Ericson, Mohr Davidow’s sole general partner on the ground in Seattle.

Ericson said the current market for early­stage technology deals could not support a $670 million fund, so the firm decided to give some more money back to its limited partners.

“I think the market is where it was in the early ’90s,” he said. “There’s still a large overhang of capital in the marketplace.”

Unlike Atlas, which plans to focus on the Boston and European markets, Ericson said Mohr Davidow will continue to try drumming up deal flow in the Pacific Northwest.

“This isn’t like Atlas, who said they were pulling out of town,” he said. “I have seven years of relationships here and I sit on two boards. We’ll continue to make investments up here.”

Ericson said he will remain a general partner at Mohr Davidow and plans to move his family to Silicon Valley.

Bill Gossman, Mohr Davidow’s sole venture partner in Seattle, will not move to Silicon Valley.

Ericson said Gossman’s future with the firm is unclear at this point. Entrepreneur­in-residence Rowan Chapman will maintain her role with the firm for the immediate future, despite the office’s closing.

Since the late 1990s, Mohr Davidow has invested in a number of Pacific Northwest startups, including Inc. of Seattle, fiber­optics developer nLight Photonics Inc. of Vancouver, Wash., Digimine Inc. of Bellevue and Portland, Ore.­based enterprise software maker Sabrix Inc.

Author: Jeff Meisner


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