Just Launched into the Boston VC Orbit: Third Rock Ventures

Xconomy Boston — 

After months of sparking rumors and fending off the press (me, anyway), Boston’s newest venture capital firm lifted its veil today with the announcement that it is launching its first fund. One glitch: the partners—who include Mark Levin and other veterans of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, among others—evidently didn’t let their media team know before it issued the press release that they’d be tied up all day at an offsite.

So here’s what I know from the release: The fund has $378 million of committed capital. Third Rock is going to invest in early stage life sciences firms, focusing on those with “‘product engines,’ or technologies that are capable of creating products in multiple diseases.” Between them, the partners have brokered some $6 billion in business alliances and $4 billion in financings. And from the firm’s website, we know that most of the partners share—or are at least willing to fake—Levin’s penchant for nontraditional business attire.)

So is there a viable niche right now for early stage, hands-on life sciences investing? Xconomist Bob Langer, an MIT professor and legendary life-sciences inventor and entrepreneur, says “I think so. Mark Levin does this very successfully. In fact he started six or seven companies, including Millennium, that way.” Tom Salemi over at the In Vivo Blog (who evidently reached the Third Rock folks before they were sucked into offsite purgatory) tentatively reaches a similar conclusion in his nice post on the new fund.