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Exclusive: Highland Capital co-founders to step back

June 1, 2012: 11:51 AM ET

Bob Higgins and Paul Maeder

Veteran venture capitalists turning over the reins.

FORTUNE -- Bob Higgins and Paul Maeder plan to reduce their roles with Highland Capital Partners, the Cambridge, Mass.-based venture capital firm they co-founded in 1988, Fortune has learned.

The pair will not be listed as general partners for Highland's next fund, which is expected to be raised next year. The Cambridge, Mass.-based firm currently is investing out of a $400 million vehicle that closed in late 2009.

Not terribly surprising, as younger Highland partners like Sean Dalton and Peter Bell have been taking on more managerial responsibilities over the past two years. Plus, Highland has added new partners like Andy Miller (ex-Apple/Quattro) and Laurence Garrett (ex-3i Group). Basically an orderly generational transition.

A Highland spokesman declined to comment.

Higgins is best known for his investments in life sciences companies, including Community Health Systems (CYH), Flextronics (FLEX) and Generation Health (acquired by CVS Caremark). Most recently, he has been focusing on med-tech opportunities like Kyruus, a Boston-based big data startup focused on physician engagement management solutions. Prior to co-founding Highland, Higgins spent five years with Charles River Ventures and also is a former Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Maeder has invested in IT and communications companies, including Sybase (acquired by SAP), Vertica (acquired by HP) and VistaPrint (VPRT). He also is chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and recently has expressed interest in the seed-stage education and robotics spaces. Maeder also is a Charles River Ventures alum, previously helping to developer an implantable artificial heart at Novacor Corp.

A source familiar with the situation says that both men will "always have a seat at the Highland table," but that neither will be expected to fulfill the duties of general partners on the next fund. "They can be as active, or inactive, as they want to be," the source says. "They've earned it."

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Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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