Polaris Partners, the eighteen year old venture capital firm headquartered in Boston, has added former oDesk chief executive Gary Swart as its first venture partner focused on technology on the West Coast.
Already an active angel investor, Swart has an existing portfolio of ten companies which he will continue to work with after his move to the Polaris team. “As the CEO of oDesk I had this view on just about every marketplace out there,” says Swart. And he’s continued to be active around that investment thesis. “I’m investing in people and companies that capitalize on excess supply and demand.”
At Polaris, he’ll be responsible for building out the firm’s presence in Silicon Valley and adding to its existing portfolio in the Golden State. Prior to oDesk, Swart was an executive at Intellibank and an executive in IBM’s Rational software product group.
For Swart, the decision to join Polaris was based in part on the strength of the firm’s ties to its previous entrepreneurs. “They have 50 entrepreneurs in their network who have doe more than one company with Polaris,” he says. That connection to repeat entrepreneurs, and the fact that the executives are willing to work with the firm, speaks volumes, according to Swart.
While Polaris hasn’t had a full-time, technology-focused investment professional on the West Coast before, roughly 25% of the portfolio is based out West.
In San Francisco, Swart will work alongside Polaris Partners’ life sciences-focused managing partner, Brian Chee.
With the move Polaris joins a growing number of traditionally East Coast investors that are taking the trip West. Three years ago, General Catalyst shifted a large portion of its operations to the West Coast. More recently RRE Ventures moved one of its general partners, Eric Wiesen, to San Francisco to establish a more permanent presence there.
“I chose Polaris because it is a partnership that values culture,curiosity, long-term relationships and follow through. At its core, this firm is rock-solid in its commitment to its portfolio, its entrepreneurs, and its quest to further grow its presence on the West Coast,” Swart said in a statement. “The partners here ‘walk the walk’ and I can’t wait to join the stride.”
Photo via Flickr user Alain Picard.