Relay Ventures, formerly ATP, adds $150M mobile fund

Krystal Peak · March 21, 2012 · Short URL:

The rebranded American arm of a Canadian fund continues to focus on mobile computing


In a time when it is important to put forth the best image possible, one VC firm is rebranding itself to connect its name with a focus on early-stage investment.

Formerly known as ATP Capital, the firm that manages the Blackberry Partners Fund, newly-dubbed Relay Ventures is promoting its changed name and is also announcing a new $150 million early-stage mobile fund. 

The new fund, called the BlackBerry Partners II fund will be led by Canada’s Northleaf Capital Partners, and will see participation from RIM, Corus Entertainment, and Thomson Reuters. 

This new fund brings the total capital managed by the company to $800 million.

Relay Ventures' co-managing partner Kevin Talbot explained in a blog post today that this name change and new fund is an shot of invigoration and clarifies that firm's focus.

"In an effort to bring some unity to the logo salad that we had created, we introduced the master brand of ATP Capital,"  Talbot wrote. "In addition to ATP being an acronym for the Association of Tennis Professionals and Adenosine Triphosphate (a coenzyme AND the name of a Japanese alternative rock band fronted by a guy named “Mug”), it stood for Albright Talbot Partners. Clearly, it was not our most creative moment and the name never took hold as an umbrella brand for the various funds that we manage, largely because we never knew or understood when to use it rather than one of the other brands we managed."

I have always had a bee in bonnet over the lack of insight and imagination that many venture firms and, definitely, tech companies have. I understand that they aren't going into the business of name creation (usually) but I feel like VC and tech companies are only moderately more slick with their names that generic pharma companies. 

It wouldn't be terrible if more companies renamed and rebranded their companies once they see the error of their ways when picking a name under the gun.

While most VCs like to have a diverse portfolio to help curb their bets, Relay has kept a singular focus on mobile computing. Relay claims that this is greatly thanks to the continued innovation and growth in the market including estimates that smartphone shipments exceeded PC shipments for the first time in 2011; mobile Internet use is projected to exceed desktop Internet use by 2014; and, there will more than 24 billion connected devices in use by 2020.

Relay Ventures has been ranked as the third most active mobile/wireless funds by Ridgecrest Capital Partners, behind Sequoia Capital and Intel Capital. Relay has backed at least 30 mobile companies since its 1996 inception, six of which have been acquired by larger companies.

In order to keep legality and clarity, the companies paperwork under ATP management will hold onto that language and all investments made from this point on will carry the Relay Ventures moniker.

Relay Ventures has also opened an office in Silicon Valley. While almost half of the firm's investments made to date have been in the San Francisco Bay Area, the firm will now be able to better support the entrepreneurs it works with, throughout North America, from a permanent office in Menlo Park. 




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