BlackBerry Partners Fund Manager ATP Rebrands As Relay Ventures, Raises $150M

ATP Capital, the firm that runs JLA Ventures, Clairmont Capital, and BlackBerry Partners Fund, is ready to start investing a new $150 million fund — and it will be doing so under a new name, Relay Ventures.

Technically, the new fund will be called the BlackBerry Partners Fund 2, but it sounds like the firm will be deemphasizing the individual funds in favor of the larger Relay Ventures brand. Just looking at all the names listed in the paragraph above should give some sense of Relay’s previously fragmented identity. The BlackBerry fund is particularly confusing, since it’s not a BlackBerry-exclusive fund, nor is it the official venture arm of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion. (However, RIM is a limited partner in both the initial BlackBerry fund and the new one.)

“We haven’t done a very good job in the past of creating a brand that tells the complete story across everything we do,” says co-managing partner Kevin Talbot.

The ATP Capital name was one attempt to clear up the confusion, but Talbot says it had problems of its own — the “ATP” part of the name suggested a biotech focus, while the “capital” part made some think the firm might be focused on later-stage investments, rather than early ones. Hence the switch to Relay Ventures.

Name confusion aside, Talbot says the firm has been investing aggressively across its three funds. (JLA focuses on digital media, while Clairmont invests in enterprise and software-as-a-service.) As one sign of this, he points to data from Ridgecrest Capital Partners showing that between January 2009 and February 2012, Relay actually invested in more mobile and wireless companies than any firm except Sequoia Capital and Intel Capital.

As for the new mobile fund, Talbot says the firm actually raised the money last year, but the limited partners (led by Northleaf Capital Partners) agreed that Relay wouldn’t have to start investing it until this year.

The first of these investments as Relay, $4.5 million in in-app messaging specialist PubNub, was also announced today. More on that here.

“We’ve really sort of extended our vision of the mobile computing paradigm” to one that includes tablets and more, Talbot says. He predicts that in the coming years, it will increasingly difficult to make “a software investment that isn’t impacted by mobile or enabled by mobile.”

Last fall, Talbot moved from Toronto to Silicon Valley to open a new Relay Ventures office. John Occhipinti, previously a partner with Woodside Fund, is now joining Talbot as a partner in the Silicon Valley office.