NEA grows Indian office

The Silicon Valley venture firm now has three investment professionals based in Bangalore; the new hires follow founder Dick Kramlich’s move to Shanghai.

Silicon Valley venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates has hired Jerry Rao and Amit Sharma as venture advisors in its Indian subsidiary. The additions bring the Bangalore-based team to three.

“In bringing Jerry and Amit on board, NEA has further demonstrated its commitment to financing and building thriving companies in India,” said NEA vice president Ben Mathias in a statement.

Rao brings substantial experience in consumer finance and business process outsourcing, while Sharma will be a key advisor on the telecom sector, said Mathias.

The new hires will join vice president Ben Mathias who joined NEA in 2006 and launched the Bangalore office in January 2007.

Rao is former founder, chairman and chief executive of MphasiS and joined NEA in February. MphasiS is a $1.3 billion (€828 million) Indian stock-exchange listed IT company. He previously worked at Citigroup where he developed Citibanks’s consumer business and earlier managed Citibank’s global technology development divisions and global electronic card division.

Amit Sharma

Sharma is currently executive vice president and Asia president at wireless communications company American Tower Corporation. Prior to American Capital, he led teams in India and Southeast Asia for Motorola.

NEA has invested in India for more than five years. The firm typically targets later stage investments in the region. Its India portfolio includes computing company Novatium and outsourced mortgage processor ISGN Technologies.

NEA also makes early stage IT investments indirectly through its affiliate fund, NEA-IndoUS. The fund was launched in January 2007 and held a second close on $189 million in July.

The firm has been making a strong push into Asia where it maintains offices in Beijing and Shanghai. Founder Dick Kramlich, one of Silicon Valley’s most veteran venture capitalists, was slated to move Shanghai this year to boost his firm’s profile in China. Kramlich is also considering raising a fund denominated in Chinese yuan. Although many venture firms now have China offices or affiliates, NEA is the first major Silicon Valley firm to send a founder to the country.

NEA has approximately $8.5 billion in committed capital and has invested in more than 550 companies.