Norwest Raises $1.2 Billion Fund After FireEye, RetailMeNot IPOs

Norwest Venture Partners is following up a string of wins, including investments in FireEye Inc. and RetailMeNot Inc., with a new $1.2 billion fund.

The venture capital firm, founded in 1961 and financed almost entirely by Wells Fargo & Co., said today that it raised the same amount for its latest fund as for its previous pool in 2009. The Palo Alto, California-based firm manages a total of about $5 billion.

Like many venture groups across Silicon Valley, Norwest has profited from the most vibrant market for initial public offerings since the late 1990s dot-com bubble. In addition to reeling in gains from last year’s IPOs of security company FireEye and online Web provider RetailMeNot, Norwest backed Sabre Corp., the travel software and data company that sold shares last month.

Norwest’s three managing partners -- Promod Haque, Matt Howard and Jeff Crowe -- have all been at the firm for at least a decade, with Haque approaching his 25th anniversary. Howard said the key to its success is staying steady through boom times and hard times.

“This is a 50-year-old firm, and we’ve been through four or five downturns,” Howard said. “We stay away from momentum investing.”

Norwest is poised to generate additional returns this year. It owns 19 percent of Mobile Iron Inc., a developer of software that helps companies protect data on smartphones, and 17 percent of LendingClub Corp., a provider of online peer-to-peer loans. Mobile Iron filed to go public in April and LendingClub’s offering is anticipated later this year.

The recent slump in technology stocks led Mobile Iron to delay its IPO and wait for better market conditions, people with knowledge of the matter said last week.

Norwest also backed e-retailer Gilt Groupe Inc., which is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s on its IPO, people familiar with the company said in February.

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