The Maryland Venture Fund, the state-funded seed and early stage equity fund, is the investment arm whose goal is to invest -- and reap returns -- from some of the most promising tech startups in Maryland.
The new guy in charge of it? Thomas S. Dann, a lawyer who has worked in private equity for years and previously served on the board of the venture fund. He was appointed by Christian S. Johanssen, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, which oversees the fund.
Dann takes over a 17-year-old state fund that's generated a $61 million return to the state, and created some 2,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in follow-on private investment. The Maryland Venture Fund invests approximately 60 percent of the Fund in software, communications, and IT security, and 40 percent in life sciences companies in the areas of therapeutics, medical devices, and diagnostics.
The fund is a cornerstone of Gov. O'Malley's InvestMaryland initiative, which is a separate (but related) effort to pump $84 million into promising tech companies over the next few years.
In a news release, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development outlined Dann's prior experience:
In addition to serving on the Maryland Venture Fund Board since 2004, Dann founded ECentury Capital Partners in 1999 and served as the managing director and general counsel until 2011. Prior to that he was a partner at a Washington D.C. law firm Hewes, Gelband, Lambert & Dann from 1989 to 1999 and served as Chairman and Organizer of the Development Bank of Washington from 1989 to 1991.
So, who is Thomas S. Dann and what's his track record as a VC and private equity guy?
Dann has a BA from Stanford and a law degree from American University.
It's not clear what the status is of ECentury Capital Partners. The website doesn't come up, though the domain is still owned by Dann. And some Internet postings seem to suggest the fund stopped making investments in the mid-2000s. His LinkedIn profile indicates that there were some heavyweight backers of the fund, including investors Rothschild, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Corporation and Allied Capital.
His current positions, also listed on his LinkedIn profile, include being a founder and managing director of Castlehaven Advisors, and director positions at Nostix LLC and Global Internet Ventures LLC.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun