Ignition Partners closes $300m third fund

Despite industry-wide lighter venture capital fundraisings, the Washington-State-based firm closes its largest fund to date while simultaneously naming two new partners.

Bellevue, Washington-based venture capital firm Ignition Partners has announced the first and final close of its third fund on $300 million (€236 million).

The fund closing was simultaneously announced with the hiring of John Zagula and Robert Headley as partners.

The new fund represents the largest vehicle raised by Ignition, and brings funds under management to approximately $750 million. Its second fund closed in the fall of 2001 on $285 million. Its debut fund, closed in the spring of 2000, totaled $140 million, a third of which came from the founding partners, with the majority of the remainder committed by Qualcomm and SOFTBANK Venture Capital, now Mobius Venture Capital.

The firm specializes in making early-stage information and communications technology investments. It was originally started by executives from Microsoft and McCaw Cellular Communications, now Cingular Wireless. Ignition focuses its investments in the Northwestern US, and syndicates with firms primarily on the West Coast.

According to Ignition partner Jonathan Roberts, the limited partners in the latest fund are a traditional mix of investors, with more than 90 percent being previous investors. He says that almost all are US investors, including Harvard and Stanford University Endowments.

“We are completely operating guys,” says Roberts. “We have significant experience in the operation of companies. Our past positions of responsibility allow us to be discerning and quite helpful to our portfolio companies. … Our success is reflected in our limited partner support.”

Roberts adds that fundraising took about four months, and was a relatively quick process, since most of the returning investors were already familiar with the firm.

The new fund will supported by the two additional partners in the Bellevue office. Headley will focus on telecommunications and wireless companies, and will oversee the firm’s day-to-day processes as administrative partner. Prior to joining Ignition, Robert spent seven years at Starbucks Coffee Company, most recently as vice president, finance and treasurer. Zagula will focus on enterprise software and services as well as end-user/consumer-facing companies. Previously, he spent more than eight years at Microsoft in various senior marketing and strategy positions. As GM of global campaigns, Zagula he was responsible for Microsoft's overall business-to-business communications across all business targets, products and offerings.