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Bessemer Venture Partners searching for space in Cambridge

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 5, 2010 12:51 PM

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Continuing my in-depth reporting on VC real estate decisions...

Partner Chris Gabrieli tells me that Bessemer Venture Partners, now based in Wellesley Hills, is looking for space in Cambridge -- ideally in Kendall Square. Bessemer's lease is up in June; it has been located in an old house in Wellesley Hills since the early 1980s, when the firm first opened an office in the Boston area. (Bessemer claims to be the oldest VC firm in the country, dating back to the early 20th century.)

"When we came to Boston around 1983," Gabrieli says, "most of the venture business was in downtown Boston. We were one of the first firms to locate out west, because we wanted to be in the entrepreneurial realm of Route 128."

The company made successful investments in local firms like Parametric Technology, Staples, Sonus Networks, Cascade Communications, and Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. (Bessemer is also famous for its "anti-portfolio," a good-humored list of the firms it passed on, which later went on to great success.)

Gabrieli says that most of the life sciences investing he has done with Bessemer has always centered on Cambridge -- and those deals are likely to continue in the future. But in other areas, like software and social networking spin-outs from MIT and Harvard, Bessemer wants to be closer to where the action is today. Gabrieli calls the Cambridge stretch of MBTA's Red Line "the ultimate source of entrepreneurial energy."

"We haven't signed a lease yet, but we're actively looking around Cambridge, especially Kendall Square," says Gabrieli.

Bessemer's Web site lists seven employees in the Wellesley Hills office; in February of 2009, it added $350 million to its current fund, which totals just over $1 billion, Gabrieli says.

Last year, Greylock Partners of Waltham announced it would move to Harvard Square. Atlas Venture has been considering a similar move from Waltham into the city.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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