Allen invests in Charlottesville– again
Microsoft co-founder/billionaire Paul Allen lost $60 million the first time he put money in a Charlottesville-based company. Undeterred, he's sinking more cash into another venture with local ties: Silvercrest Asset Management, a New York company co-founded in 2002 by UVA alum and Staunton native G. Moffett Cochran V, who opened an office here in 2005.
Allen and FedEx CEO Frederick Smith invested in the notorious dot.bomb online retailer Value America, which went belly up in 2000. According to Internetnews.com, Allen sank $65 million into the venture that came to exemplify dot.com excesses before the bubble burst.
Allen's Vulcan Capital, which handles his sizable portfolio, bought an undisclosed minority share in Silvercrest. "They put us through rigorous due diligence," says Cochran. "The fact they're going with us is very validating to us."
Silvercrest now handles $8 billion in rich people's assets, and the average client has $30 million in assets that need to be managed. Cochran hopes his firm can capitalize on the fact that Vulcan's investment people are "plugged in all over the world, and they have a wealth of relationships here and abroad."
Cochran was not aware of Allen's previous investment fiasco in Charlottesville– "You're dealing with a guy who has a vast portfolio," he notes– but says there's another Charlottesville connection. UVA law alum, Lance Conn, "oversees the totality of Paul Allen's investments," and still has fond memories of his alma mater, according to Cochran.