Atlas Venture splits tech and life sciences divisions

Atlas Venture's Bruce Booth  (courtesy of Atlas Venture)
Atlas Venture's Bruce Booth (courtesy of Atlas Venture)

As first reported by Dan Primack in Fortune this morning, Atlas Venture announced at its annual meeting that it will be splitting the early-stage focused venture capital firm between its life sciences and technology divisions.

Details behind the split were given in partner Bruce Booth’s blog later in the day.

As Booth explained, Atlas is “Transitioning from our ‘two franchise, one firm’ diversified venture model into two specialized, independent firms focused on technology and life sciences investing, in order to better capture the growing opportunities in our different ecosystems.”

The move from a diversified fund into two separate entities seems amicable; Booth said that the split was broached by the tech side in his post.

From the reactions of the parties involved, it appears as if everyone is happy.

However, there are a couple of odd aspects to the split. Most glaring is the naming issue.

The new life sciences firm will keep the old name while the technology-focused one will come up with a new moniker. If this had been the plan for some time, wouldn’t a detail like the name of the new standalone tech-focused firm have been ironed out?

Don’t get me wrong, Atlas (together or separate) might be THE most important venture capital firm in the Boston area for early stage companies. Biotech companies struggling to get off the ground have been funded and mentored by the life sciences division, and the tech division has helped launch more local innovation startups than than any other local VC firm over the last few years.

This isn’t the first time this year that Atlas made a quick, shocking move. In April, it was announced that Fred Destin, who helped bring the firm to Cambridge along with Jeff Fagnan, would be leaving to return to London to focus on his family, a move he described as “heart wrenching.” Fast forward to these days when Destin keeps popping back up in Boston, supposedly scouting startups for the firm he is working with now, Accel Partners.

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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