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Terry Garnett's comeback?

August 22, 2013: 11:45 AM ET

A funny thing happened after Garnett & Helfrich Capital was left for dead...

FORTUNE -- I recently heard some Silicon Valley rumblings that Terry Garnett was beginning to prep a new private equity fund. My initial response was shock, but it seems to have been misplaced.

You might remember that Garnett was the longtime venture capitalist (ex-Venrock) who in 2004 teamed with David Helfrich (ex-ComVentures) to form a new firm that focused on buyouts and carve-outs for small and mid-cap tech companies. They raised $350 million for their debut fund, which was designed to have a relatively small number of portfolio companies (i.e., concentrated model).

But things didn't go too well in the early years. In 2007 the firm was forced to cancel a planned second fundraising (target of $700m or so), and all of the investment staff quit save for the two principals (with Garnett abandoning a planned move to London). So I mentally wrote it off as just another zombie, only thinking about it when I saw Garnett's name attached to various startups as an angel investor.

So upon hearing that Garnett may be raising a new fund, I went back to look at the performance of Garnett & Helfrich's 2004 fund. To my surprise, it is remarkably strong. CalPERS reports that the vehicle had a 20.6% IRR and 2.8x multiple through the end of last year. That easily would be within the top-quartile for its vintage, according to Cambridge Associates benchmarks.

Looks like the big winners were Wyse Technology, which was sold to Dell (DELL), and Blade Network Technologies, which was sold to IBM (IBM). The active  portfolio still includes MTI Europe and Actian Corp.

In other words, don't be surprised if Garnett is able to raise something new.

Unclear if Helfrich plans to be involved next time, although Garnett did copy him in a "no comment" response to my inquiries…

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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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