Spark fund catches fire

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A venture capital firm whose management team includes former entertainment executives has raised $360 million for a fund that will invest in new-media companies.

Spark Capital, founded two years ago, previously raised $260 million. It has invested about 75% of that, and co-founder Todd Dagres said Thursday that its second fund, Spark II, includes money from all 21 investors from the first fund plus an additional three.

A small "side fund" of a "few million dollars" includes individual investors, some of whom are top executives at major entertainment companies, though Dagres would not reveal names.

The first fund scored its first liquidity event when thePlatform was sold to Comcast Corp. for $100 million. Spark invested $10 million in thePlatform -- which turns traditional content into broadband media -- five months before the sale and made three times its investment.

Dagres said Spark's first fund will make another five investments on top of the 14 it has already made. About half of those companies, all of which are private, boast revenue, though none is profitable.

Among its portfolio are mobile entertainment companies 4th Media, SendMe and Twistbox Entertainment. Perhaps its best-known portfolio company is Veoh Networks, which touts itself as "the first truly independent Internet Television Broadcasting System."

"We like companies with technology that will disrupt traditional media," Dagres said.

Dagres founded Spark with Santo Politi, formerly of Charles River Ventures and a one-time president of new media for Blockbuster, and Dennis Miller, formerly of Constellation Ventures and a former executive at Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Turner Network Television.

Dagres was with Battery Ventures before co-founding Spark, and he was among those who set up Prospect Pictures and Ealing Studios.

Dagres said they set out to raise $325 million for Spark II but capped it at $360 million instead because demand was unexpectedly strong.
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