Anzu Partners, San Diego’s fourth largest venture capital firm, has added a partner from the international investment banking sector.
William Strong, a former vice chairman and co-CEO for Asia Pacific Region at Morgan Stanley, has joined as a partner of Anzu Partners to spearhead strategic transactions.
Strong has advised clients in more than 25 countries involved in capital-raising transactions across all product classes as well as mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.
“Anzu’s portfolio companies have the potential to transform the industries in which they operate and have a material positive impact on the environment, public health and much more,” said Strong. “I look forward to joining Anzu’s extraordinary team of professionals and helping accelerate the growth of these breakthrough technologies.”
The addition of Strong builds upon a strong year for the La Jolla-based firm.
The firm’s mission is to invest in industrial and life science technology companies with the potential to transform their industries.
Anzu Managing Partner David Michael said the firm focuses on a sector where few investors are willing to invest at the early stages. Since most of the so-called enabling technology work is done by startups spun out of major universities, Anzu often is the first source of outside capital for companies that previously have only received grants.
Investing in Industrial Technologies
The firm, which has made 25 investments since inception, including four in San Diego-based companies, typically invests $4 million to $12 million per financing round in U.S. and Canada-based companies in the industrial technology space.
Two San Diego companies in which the firm has invested are Sorrento Valley-based NanoCellect Biomedical Inc., which is developing more-affordable cell-sorting technology for the biotech industry, and Rancho Bernardo company Banyan Biomarkers, which is developing a blood test to diagnose traumatic brain injury.
“We have also helped bring two of our portfolio companies move their U.S. headquarters to San Diego, establishing presence in Solana Beach and Sorrento Valley,” said Michael. “San Diego has the talent, the market positioning, and allows companies to be in the middle of everything that’s happening. Technologically, it made a lot of sense.”
Managing a $190 Million Fund
Anzu operates from offices in San Diego, Tampa, Washington and Boston, and Michael believes that the geographic diversity gives the company a leg up on deals. The firm has seven employees in its San Diego office and 50 staffers in total.
In 2020, the firm raised $190 million to expand its geographic footprint to other under-capitalized regions around the U.S.
Joining a national trend, Anzu Partners most recently raised $420 million for its ‘blank check’ investment. Anzu’s SPAC started trading on the Nasdaq in early March under the symbol ANZUU.
The firm said little about Anzu’s acquisition plans for its special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), noting that it will follow the mission of the investment firm: to find and cultivate early stage industrial and life science technology companies.
There are several corporate and stand-alone venture funds with offices in San Diego, including Qualcomm Ventures, Avalon Ventures and Correlation Ventures, among others. But the number of local VCs is relatively small compared with Silicon Valley, Boston and other start-up hotbeds, which some San Diego entrepreneurs say makes it harder to raise money.
Michael, who co-founded the firm in 2014, heads the local office. Anzu’s co-founders are Whitney Haring-Smith and David Seldin, the firm’s other managing partners.
“Bill is one of the most widely respected global finance professionals and we are thrilled to have him join our leadership team during an accelerated growth period for our portfolio companies and our firm,” said Seldin.
“Bill will be a dominant force for our portfolio companies with his extensive industrial, capital markets and transaction expertise. He brings deep connectivity and a global network in industrial technology for our portfolio companies,” he said.