A few weeks ago we told you that RTP Ventures—the U.S. arm of ru-Net, the $700 million fund founded by Russian billionaire Leonid Boguslavsky—was on its way to naming “two splashy new hires” to join senior managing director Kirill Sheynkman. Although word got out early, as of this week, both hires have been officially announced, as well as the size of the U.S. fund: $120 million.
Battery Ventures alum Murat Bicer is RTP’s managing director in Boston and Jalak Jobanputra, the former director of emerging market mobile investments at Omidyar Network, will be RTP’s managing director in New York, joining Mr. Sheynkman at the firm’s Third Avenue office in Midtown.
“Kirill started first investing Leonid’s money on the cloud computing and infrastructure side and I joined to look at more the consumer internet,” Ms. Jobanputra, who blogs at The Barefoot VC, told Betabeat earlier this week.
She has considerable experience in the category. Prior to her work with Omidyar, Ms. Jobanputra was senior vice president at the New York City Investment Fund where she invested in startups TxVia and Outside.in (the latter was acquired by AOL). At RTP, Ms. Jobanputra said she will be looking at verticals like e-commerce and ad-tech, which she finds “particularly interesting.”
Ms. Jobanputra has investment experience in emerging markets like India, Turkey, and Latin America, all of which fits well with RTP’s interest in cross-border deals “as Leonid looks to build out ru-Net,” she said.
“It’s a very global market even at the startup level,” she said, “I’ve been investing for awhile and I’ve seen more and more companies want to access overseas and learn how to acquire customers and users in some of these markets.” RTP’s international expertise should give them an edge. But that doesn’t mean RTP won’t be looking closer to home.
“New York, as we know, is a very nascent and growing tech market. Kirill and I see tremendous opportunity and growth in this market. We’re also focusing on series A deals,” she said, adding that, as opposed to the West Coast, there’s more of a need to help companies scale beyond seed rounds. “In terms of the funding gap, we’re geographically well-positioned.”
RTP has already made a number of investments, so announcing the $120 million fund was more of a formalization of the work the firm has already been doing. The capital available to the fund through ru-Net “makes it attractive for later stage deals as our portfolio companies need more,” Ms. Jobanputra said, comparing it to Union Square Ventures’ Opportunity Fund.
In the near-term, she said, part of her focus will be on putting the syndicates together. Mr. Sheynkman, for example, has already co-investing with IA Ventures. As for RTP’s investment philosphy, Ms. Jobanputra added, “It’s about being entrepreneur friendly, it’s a very quick approval process, we can move very quickly, it’s not this huge hierarchical partnership.”