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Chris Lynch, former Vertica chief executive, joins up with Atlas Venture

Posted by Scott Kirsner  May 16, 2012 09:00 AM

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Not even two months after announcing his intention to become an active angel in the "big data" sector, former Vertica CEO Chris Lynch is joining Atlas Venture, the Cambridge VC firm.

What gives?

Lynch told me yesterday that he felt compelled to sign on with a VC firm because he'd been swamped by a tidal wave of prospective deals. "I totally underestimated the amount of action I'd get based on my commitment to invest in big data startups," Lynch said. "I was getting more than 20 inquiries a week, primarily from Boston companies, but also from places like Austin and San Diego. There were just more quality deals than I could handle on my own. The numbers were just overwhelming, in terms of how many good deals there are to do — and to support over time."

Lynch had been an entrepreneur-in-residence at Atlas before he joined Vertica, which sold database software, and which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $350 million last year. (Atlas wasn't among the firms that invested in Vertica.) His résumé includes stints at many of the biggest players in telecom and IT, including Cisco, ArrowPoint, Acopia Networks, Lucent, Bay Networks, Wellfleet Communications, and Digital Equipment Corp.

While at Vertica and in the two months since his departure, Lynch had made angel investments in startups like Hopper, Kinvey, Mortar Data, Power Inbox, and Hadapt.

But now, Atlas partner Jeff Fagnan says, "Chris will go from investing his personal money as an angel to investing through Atlas." Big data, Fagnan adds, "is a space we know pretty well. We've probably done more investments there than any other firm in New England," mentioning companies like Recorded Future and InsightSquared.

Atlas has been growing as a firm recently, adding Ryan Moore, formerly of GrandBanks Capital, last October.

Lynch says he plans to work out of an old barn next to his house in Arlington, though he'll also make regular appearances at Atlas' East Cambridge office. He's one of the driving forces in creating a new space in Cambridge called hack/reduce, aimed at providing desks and data processing capacity to early-stage entrepreneurs and coders working on big data projects.

The coming boom in big data — broadly defined as software and hardware for storing and analyzing large data sets — "is going to make the Internet boom pale in comparison," Lynch predicts.

In an e-mail Lynch sent to his friends and former colleagues this morning, he wrote that his commitment is to "bring Boston back to where it was when I started at Digital — where it should be, on top!"

Lynch continued, "To all of my venture friends, I want to be clear; I am looking forward to learning from and working with you. My mission for Boston will only be realized by focusing on collaboration, not competition."

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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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