Alliance of Angels takes flight, spins off from the Technology Alliance

The Alliance of Angels — a 15-year-old Seattle angel investment organization that boasts more than 60 members — is spinning off from its longtime non-profit parent organization, the Technology Alliance.

In a press release today, Alliance of Angels Chairman Dan Rosen said that the move marked the “next logical step” for the angel group.

“Our members and the entrepreneurs we support won’t notice any changes in the AoA program,” said Rosen. The group — which invested about $10 million in 33 deals last year — recently named Yi-Jian Ngo as managing director. Ngo and Rosen will continue to the lead the group, which saw a big outcome last year when portfolio company Pacific Bioscience Labs (maker of the Clarisonic device) sold to L’Oreal. Other past successes include Dashwire, Insitu, CleverSet and SnapIn Software.

Susannah Malarkey

In a press release, Technology Alliance executive director Susannah Malarkey said that the landscape is very different today from when Bill Gates Sr. started the Alliance of Angels in 1997.

“AoA is well-equipped to fulfill its mission on its own, while we turn our attention to a need that has not yet been adequately addressed in our state: very early stage commercialization and the successful formation of science and technology-based businesses, which is the purpose of our Innovation Showcase program,” she said.

That program focuses on spinning technologies out of the University of Washington and other research-based organizations. “No one else is really focused there and it is a big need,” said Malarkey, adding that they plan to continue funneling promising startups to the Alliance of Angels.

To date, more than 160 companies have raised $60 million through the Alliance of Angels. The group will remain a non-profit entity, Malarkey said.

The group’s seed fund, an early-stage investment fund supported with cash from Madrona and Trilogy, operates as a separate LLC. It has nearly deployed its capital, but has retained some cash for follow-on investments, Malarkey said.

UPDATE: Here’s more from Dan Rosen who is attending the Angel Capital Association annual meeting in Austin, Texas this week.

We have been operating independently for several years, have our own board, and, as we raise the next AoA Seed Fund, realized that it was just time to be fully independent.  (Tech Alliance chair) Jeremy Jaech was terrific to work with on this; he is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor.  We will focus more on entrepreneur outreach, and helping our AoA Portfolio companies with more programs.  While we will maintain our close relationship with the TA, we also expect to create many more affiliations and partnerships to drive the AoA program forward.

Previously on GeekWireAngel groups in Seattle: How they’re doing, what they cost… Angel mind meld: What early-stage investors really want

  • Sean

    Now there is nobody left to reign in Dan Rosen. The list of founders who he has invested in who want nothing to do with him is long. John Cook needs to do a little investigative journalism on this. I know from of at least 3 companies whose founders wouldn’t let Dan invest cause they had such a bad experience with him as an angel in their previous companies. No surprise as there was much strife between him and his partners at Frazier.

  • Rita Ashley

    Thanks for the reportage. No idea how this happened with such a knowledgeable person as S. Malarkey, but the WRF has long been a factor in helping UW technologies become companies. Here’s part of their mission statement. 
    Background
    Washington Research Foundation was founded in 1981 to assist universities and other nonprofit research institutions in the state of Washington with commercialization of their technologies and to provide support, through gifts and grants, for scholarship and research. WRF is an independent private foundation whose operational revenue comes from retained funds from licensing activities and investments.

  • Pixelgeeek

    Maybe now they will give the presenting companies lunch -instead of making them pay for it themselves.  Always seemed a bit petty to me.

  • Dave

    Unfortunately, Dan’s involvement and controversial profile among founders is why I did not join AoA. He has fans and detractors but the number of detractors has grown over the past few years.

  • Dave

    Unfortunately, Dan’s involvement and controversial profile among founders is why I did not join AoA. He has fans and detractors but the number of detractors has grown over the past few years.