Thursday, May 10, 2007

Third Rock's a Charm

It’s one of the oldest stories out there. Successful management team, a few years removed from running their own successful biopharmaceutical company, decide to get back into the business by raising their own venture fund.

In the past, such an effort might elicit some snickers. But this is likely to be a story with a happy ending. Third Rock Ventures—a venture firm started by four former Millennium Pharmaceutical executives—is out raising $300 million for a first-time venture firm, an effort one institutional investor already has deemed a “hot commodity.”

The team includes former Millennium CEO Mark Levin, who actually is returning to his venture capital roots. Levin was a partner at Mayfield when he started Millennium and left in 1994 to run the company.

Levin joins Robert Tepper, Millennium’s former head of research and development at Millennium, Kevin Starr, Millennium’s former CFO, and Nick Leschly, who had been the project leader for Velcade. (Nick is the third Leschly to become a VC, joining father, Jan of Care Capital, and brother, Mark, who is with Rho Capital.)

No details yet on the strategy, but some expect Third Rock to look at early-stage, product-focused companies. "True venture capital," in the words of one IN VIVO Blog source.

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