The latest Waltham venture capital firm hunting for office space in Boston and Cambridge is Advanced Technology Ventures, which invests in healthcare, IT, and cleantech. The firm was founded in New York in 1979 by a veteran of Venrock, another VC firm. It moved its east coast office to Boston in 1984, and then out to Waltham in 2001.
ATV hasn't yet decided when the move will happen, but it'll likely take place this year. "Their motivation is to be closer to the entrepreneurs, labs, etc.," says Donna von Halle, the firm's spokesperson.
Earlier this month, I noted that Charles River Ventures (located in the same Mount Money office complex as ATV) is also shopping for more urban digs.
In 2009, I wrote a blog post titled "Why Waltham Doesn't Matter," which posited that "the new core of Boston venture capital has moved in closer to the city, toward Copley Square and Harvard Square." The migration has only gained momentum since then. (Many people would observe that VCs can sometimes exhibit herd-like behavior...)
The best comment on that piece came from Howard Anderson, a senior lecturer at MIT's Sloan School and one of the founders of Battery Ventures (born on Battery Street in downtown Boston, but now located in Waltham), who wrote:
Most venture capital in the Boston area got started within 2 stops of the Red Line...Venture Capitalists moved to Waltham... to be closer to their golf clubs.
There is an inverse relationship between the success of a firm and its distance from MIT's Golden Dome. There is something magical about the ability to have an MIT/Harvard Professor able to jump from his lab to his startups office and back again. Also, the people you want to hire are Ph.D. students.
Golf has been the undoing of more great venture capital companies in Boston than Silicon Valley. I hear that for every round of golf that a VC plays, his IQ goes down one point.
Also worth reading is this post by Larry Cheng, a former Battery principal, which tells the story of how Facebook's founders had to pay for their cab ride from Cambridge to Waltham... and how Cheng gave them a lift back to campus.
Worried now that Mount Money may be turning into Vacancyville...
About Scott Kirsner
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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April 3-4: Mass Biotech Annual Meeting
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