In a post on Medium today, Charles River Ventures’s general partner Jon Auerbach announced a new fund for the early-stage investment firm as well as a couple of changes in the way CRV views itself and its future.
For one, Auerbach said that the firm will now go by the moniker CRV, ditching the reference to Boston’s iconic river that’s located near its Kendall Square office. The name change goes along with a shift in the amount of focus the firm will put into investments in Northern California companies versus Boston startups.
As Auerbach said in the Medium post, “In addition to our physical presence in Silicon Valley, we’ve also made a symbolic change. As much as we love the Charles River, we are now CRV. Even more important than the name, we have created a clear and deliberate articulation of the values we think make CRV unique among venture firms.”
The new fund, CRV’s sixteenth, is a $393 million fund that the firm will use to invest small funds in early-stage companies, which the firm has traditionally done.
Auerbach explained that while CRV has its roots in the “pre-Internet and early-Internet ages” in Boston, this new fund is the first where the firm has the majority of its investing team in Silicon Valley. Six of CRV’s eight investors are now based in Menlo Park, with Auerbach and Izhar Armony remaining in the Cambridge office.
In the blog post, Auerbach refers to the proximity of its Bay Area office to companies like Twitter, Yammer, and Zendesk, consumer Internet “giants” in Auerbach’s words that are “revolutionizing the way enterprises work.” All three are part of CRV’s portfolio (the firm was the first institutional investor in each, he said) and have a market value, according to Auerbach, of more than $24 billion.
However, while Twitter and Zendesk have gone public and Yammer was acquired by Microsoft in 2012, it seems a bit odd that CRV is eschewing the Boston/New York area and publicly professing its love for Silicon Valley.
It’s undeniable that Silicon Valley is the startup capital of the world, and an important place for any venture capital firm to have a presence. But in CRV’s case, it has quite a few Northeast tech companies in its portfolio that have not only have been outright successes, but are on trajectory to become industry “giants.” Some of those companies include HubSpot, SessionM, GrabCAD, Fiksu, DataGravity, New York’s Flatiron School, Millenial Media of Baltimore, Netezza, Rethink Robotics, and SimpliVity.
As Auerbach explained, “We remain committed to Boston. With our strong brand, our 44-year-old network, and our Boston-based team, we will continue to invest in the market, particularly in enterprise software, infrastructure and robotics where there have been large exits and there are very high potential companies”
“But the West Coast is where the center of gravity for technology and investing, especially in consumer, mobile and cloud computing, has clearly shifted,” he added. “Over the past 12 years, we’ve taken our rich East Coast history from our office next door to MIT and gone West.”