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

Xconomy National — 

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.

NameJob in October 2012Job in February 2014
Noubar AfeyanManaging Partner, Flagship VenturesSame
Gaurav AggarwalPartner, Panorama Capital??
Brent AhrensManaging Director, Canaan PartnersSame
Srini AkkarajuManaging Director, New Leaf Venture PartnersGeneral Partner, Sofinnova Ventures
Joseph AndersonPartner, AbingworthSame
Bruce BoothPartner, Atlas VentureSame
Mike CarusiGeneral Partner, Lightstone VenturesSame
Brian CheeGeneral Partner, Polaris PartnersManaging Partner, Polaris Partners
Doug ColeGeneral Partner, Flagship VenturesSame
Alan CraneGeneral Partner, Polaris PartnersPartner, Polaris Partners
Anupam DalalPartner, Kearny Venture PartnersManaging Director, Kearny Venture Partners
Francesco De RubertisPartner, Index VenturesSame
Ryan DrantGeneral Partner, NEASame
Bryant FongManaging Director, Burrill Venture CapitalManaging Director, Biomark Capital
Nick GalakatosManaging Director, Clarus VenturesSame
Carl GordonPartner, OrbiMed AdvisorsSame
James HealyGeneral Partner, Sofinnova VenturesSame
Patrick HeronGeneral Partner, Frazier Healthcare VenturesSame
Wende HuttonManaging Director, Canaan PartnersSame
Dan JanneyManaging Director, Alta PartnersSame
Alison KileyDirector, Alta Partners??
Nina KjellsonManaging Director, InterWest PartnersSame
Garheng KongGeneral Partner, Sofinnova VenturesManaging Partner, Sofinnova HealthQuest
Thong LeManaging Director, WRF CapitalCEO, Accelerator
Heath LukatchPartner, Novo VenturesSame
Dayton MisfeldtInvestment partner, Bay City CapitalManaging Director, Bay City Capital
Bob MoreGeneral Partner, Frazier Healthcare VenturesSenior Advisor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Amir NashatGeneral Partner, Polaris PartnersManaging Partner, Polaris Partners
Robert NelsenManaging Director, Arch Venture PartnersSame
Brendan O’LearyGeneral Partner, Prism VentureWorksSame
Adele OlivaPartner, Quaker PartnersSame
Deepa PakianathanGeneral Partner, Delphi VenturesSame
Bryan RobertsPartner, VenrockSame
Bijan SalehizadehManaging Director, Navimed CapitalSame
Camille SamuelsManaging Director, Versant VenturesBoard member of Achaogen, Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Carmenta Bio
David SchnellManaging Director, Prospect Venture PartnersSame
Andy SchwabGeneral Partner, 5AM VenturesSame
Jonathan SilversteinPartner, OrbiMed AdvisorsSame
Risa StackPartner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersGeneral Manager, GE Emerging Health Innovations
Jamie TopperGeneral Partner, Frazier Healthcare VenturesSame