Kara Swisher

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Small Is Beautiful: Greycroft Partners Raises $175 Million in Third Fund

Greycroft Partners has closed a $175 million fund, its third since it began investing in consumer Internet and media companies in mid-2000.

In a press release, the New York- and Los Angeles-based venture firm said the fund was oversubscribed. But general partner Alan Patricof noted that Greycroft capped the amount and kept it small compared to other VCs, in order to maintain its focus on investing in early-stage capital-efficient start-ups.

“It’s always been our philosophy not to overfund the companies we invest in,” Patricof said in an interview. “It’s sometimes been hard in an environment where there is a lot of money available to entrepreneurs, but we are looking for start-ups that understand that it’s important to maintain the right balance of funding.”

The concept of a small fund is important to Greycroft, which has only three general partners and three venture partners, said general partner Dana Settle. The firm typically invests from $500,000 to $5 million, with more of a focus on online media, mobile and video, and also has a small seed fund.

“I think we are very hands-on helping our companies, but you don’t have to always do that in the traditional way most VCs do,” Settle said. “We want to maintain focus on giving our companies the right kind of advice, and let the entrepreneur take the lead.”

In fact, Patricof and Settle stressed, Greycroft does not often take board seats on the start-ups it invests in, and typically invests with other VCs in syndicates, which sometimes means the firm has less equity.

So far, Greycroft maintains that its system has worked. Its first fund of $75 million was raised in 2006 and has invested in 34 companies, with 11 sold and 130 percent of committed capital returned to partners; its second fund of $131 million, in 2010, put investments in 32 companies, several with valuations over $100 million.

Patricof noted that “the sale of our companies is usually our goal,” rather than an IPO event.

Exits include Vizu, acquired by Nielsen Holdings, Huffington Post (AOL), Babble (Walt Disney) and Buddy Media (Salesforce.com). More recent investments include Klout, Pulse and Maker Studios.

Most previous Greycroft investors have re-upped in the latest fund, the firm said, including J.P. Morgan, BlackRock Private Equity Partners, Fairview Capital and Invesco Private Capital. It also added new investors including Hall Capital, Hamilton Lane, Greenspring Associates and Cambridge Associates.

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