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Bertelsmann Ventures sets sights on Net start-ups

The media giant's investment arm forms a new $250 million venture fund made up of commitments from several high-profile international investors.

    Bertelsmann Ventures today said it has formed a new $250 million venture fund made up of commitments from several high-profile international investors.

    The new fund, Bertelsmann Ventures Capital Fund II, includes investments from Bertelsmann Ventures, America Online, Beisheim Holding, Stanford University and German financial firm Vereins und Westbank.

    Capital Fund II succeeds the unit's first offering, an independent private equity fund formed with $75 million in committed capital from Bertelsmann, the sole limited partner.

    While the unit's first fund focused on seed and early stage investments, financing a dozen new Internet companies in the areas of e-commerce, content and community, Capital Fund II will make investments in Internet media, services and infrastructure opportunities in the United States and Europe.

    Bertelsmann Ventures' portfolio includes Internet firms such as eGroups, Expertcity.com, Riffage, Imandi.com, BeMany, Musicbank, NuvoMedia and Evenbetter.com.

    Co-investors in the unit's portfolio members are U.S. companies such as Atlas Ventures, CMGI @Ventures, Mayfield Fund, Menlo Ventures, Softbank, Sun Microsystems, Vulcan Ventures and ZDNet.

    In related news, Yahoo said last Wednesday that it will acquire a Bertelsmann Ventures portfolio company, eGroups, for 3.4 million shares of Yahoo stock. The deal was valued at $428 million. eGroups is an email communications company whose 17 million members have created 800,000 active email groups.