Far from blue in the troubled tech sector


02-08-2001

They are not expecting rich pickings in Cambridge, but Far Blue, the venture capital firm with a difference, finds itself in its element as technology companies scream for a lifeline.

Far Blue arrived in the city a year ago, intending to behave like a classic venture capital outfit but times have changed and the firm is now hoping to pick up bargains in the worldwide techno jumble sale.



The company says: 'The last month has seen a radical plunge in the value of technology stocks on both sides of the Atlantic. With valuations at the lowest they have been for several years, access to the equity and debt markets effectively closed, and revenues falling off a cliff, companies need to restructure and rewrite, often totally, their business and sales models.'



And Far Blue think they are the people best placed to help.



The institutions have put 6 million into the company and Far Blue will use this to help ailing businesses, at the same time injecting their own expertise in turning around and managing technology companies.



Far Blue's team of 10 includes Peter Helfet, who founded Plasmon, the data-storage company at Melbourn, and Technology & Finance, a high-tech start-up consultancy and joint venture with Scientific Generics.



The chief executive is Matthew Hudson, who comes from Cabot Square Capital, and the finance boss is Jeffrey Kinn, who was previously finance director of Prontaprint.



Hudson says: 'This economic climate has given us many more opportunities. We are looking for technology-based companies to acquire and turn around.



'We have built Far Blue by investing in fundamental technologies and creating companies around IP. The methods and expertise needed for this business model are very similar to those needed to turn around companies.'



But while Far Blue is picking up technology companies elsewhere, especially in the north, Cambridge director, Chris Fitzsimmons, says he thinks it unlikely there will be many opportunities in the city.



'Cambridge is still quite booming,' he said.



Far Blue's investors number Bank of Scotland, Aberdeen Asset Management, Friends Ivory & Sime and J&W Seligmanof New York. Far Blue has offices in Wellington House, East Road. 01223 451049.