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Ascend Venture Group to fund tech firms.

New York state comptroller gives $15 million for start-ups

Ascend Venture Group L.L.C., a New York-based African American-owned private equity firm, has established a $40 million venture capital fund that will invest in early-stage technology companies. The lead investment in the venture is a $15 million contribution from New York state Comptroller H. Carl McCall on behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which has targeted $250 million for private equity investments in New York state.

The Ascend fund, which targets minority- and women-owned firms for potential investments, has allocated $5 million for companies based in New York and the remaining $35 million for firms elsewhere in the country. Ascend Venture Group's four principals, Darryl E. Wash, Charles W. Crockett, David C. Bowen, and Roszell Mack III, began marketing the idea for the technology fund in March 2000. They closed the first round of funding in March 2001, and will continue to raise funds through the end of the year with the goal of reaching a minimum of $60 million.

The fund's concept of targeting minority-and women-owned firms is in line with McCall's commitment to invest in emerging businesses. "The four principals of Ascend Venture Group are highly qualified and experienced venture capitalists, and have all spent time with Goldman Sachs," says McCall. "This investment will help the firm continue its mission of investing in early-stage technology companies. Their focus, providing capital to women- and minority-owned businesses that offer great investment opportunities, is frequently overlooked by traditional sources of capital."

Wash says the fund is interested in companies that leverage technology. They have already invested in B2eMarkets (www.b2emarkets.com), a strategic e-sourcing solutions firm that offers software and other services to global 2000 companies. "We will invest in any business that we believe has good economics and is scalable," says Wash. He says they are not interested in technology companies that are "beyond the cutting edge."

What Ascend Venture Group is interested in is the continued growth of an untapped area of investment opportunity. "As the demographics change in our society, we think that this will only become an increasingly prolific source of deals," says Wash. "The comptroller's office has demonstrated vision and foresight in terms of getting behind us, and we find that very significant."
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Title Annotation:venture capital fund for investing in high-technology industry
Author:Scott, Matthew S.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Aug 1, 2001
Words:381
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