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General Catalyst co-founder John Simon lands at Sigma Prime Ventures

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 20, 2012 08:03 AM

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As Sigma Prime Ventures heads toward the home stretch of raising what could be a $150 million venture capital fund, the Boston firm is adding a fourth partner: John Simon, who departed General Catalyst in July. Simon had been a co-founder of that Cambridge firm in 2000.

Simon's eclectic track record includes life sciences, mobile, digital marketing, and hardware, with investments in companies like m-Qube, DC Devices, CyPhy Works, BzzAgent, and OvaScience.

"He complements our styles," says Sigma partner Bob Davoli. "We're all operating guys. We've been founders and CEOs. We like to hatch a few deals, and do lots of series As and Bs." Before helping get General Catalyst off the ground, Simon was the founder of a medical device company called UroMed.

Will the addition of Simon expand Sigma's focus into drugs, healthcare and medical devices? (The team there has traditionally done a lot of IT services and software investments.) Maybe. Davoli notes that Sigma has already invested with Simon in iWalk, a developer of prosthetics, but that "therapeutics won't be his focus — it'll be the exception that proves the rule."

Davoli says that he and partner Paul Flanagan have invested with Simon on at least three companies when Simon was at General Catalyst, and that they've been looking at deals together over the past few months "to see if our perspectives would be complementary." They obviously decided that they were.

Sigma Prime, previously the East Coast office of Sigma Partners, filed paperwork earlier this year with the SEC to raise a $150 million fund. In October, I wrote that they expect that to be done by the end of the year.

With Simon gone and General Catalyst partner Hemant Taneja shifting his focus to Internet deals, it seems like GC has decided to exit the business of investing in life sciences and cleantech companies.

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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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