American venture capital firm opens in India

VC firm with a focus on early and mid stage investments in internet and wireless companies chooses India as first Asian base.
Another established Silicon Valley venture capital firm has chosen India for one of its early forays outside the US. Canaan Partners announced it was setting up office in Gurgaon, the satellite city of Delhi and home to the BPO boom in the country. Canaan has a clearly defined focus on early stage investing in internet and wireless companies. The announcement also solved the mystery regarding where Alok Mittal, formerly with Barings Private Equity had moved. Mittal will be executive director, Canaan Partners permanently based in India. Mittal's fit with Canaan's areas of interest is apparent as he launched a successful internet job site which he sold to Monster before he joined Barings. Deepak Kamra will head the India operations dividing his time between the Silicon Valley and India. Kamra is a Canaan veteran who has been with the firm since 1991. He joined Canaan with significant operating experience in the telecommunications, computer and software industries, making him well suited to understand opportunities in CanaanÆs focus areas.

On the occasion Mittal comments: ôIndia historically has had a strong cultural bias for innovation, and now with proven technical talent and a strong local market, we believe the time is ripe for entrepreneurship to flourish. We are ready to provide first rounds of institutional capital and are already receiving many interesting business proposalsö.

It is perhaps noteworthy that India is CanaanÆs second overseas office in a 19 year existence. The firm which was founded in 1987 has $2.4 billion under management and has invested in 232 companies, completed 60 mergers and acquisitions and taken more then 50 companies public. Its first move outside the US was an office it set up in Tel Aviv in December, 2005.

CanaanÆs bullishness on India is further corroborated by KamraÆs statement that the India office could eventually rival the size of the Silicon Valley operation. When Canaan opened its office in Israel it had made only 3 investments in companies headquartered outside the US. One of these was Aztec Software, a software development firm based in Bangalore in which Canaan invested in 2000. Canaan has said in the past that China is also of interest to them however has chosen to begin overseas forays with Israel and India.

Going forward Canaan will be scouting out early and mid stage investments, an area which they feel has less competition in India where most private equity firms are focused on late stage. Canaan was an early stage investor in successful US based internet companies such as DoubleClick, CommerceOne, and Blue Frog Mobile and is confident of its ability to identify and grow similar opportunities in India.
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