American Capital jumps into venture

Publicly traded American Capital has lured two big-name venture vets to spearhead its new technology practice.

Publicly held business development company American Capital Strategies is diving into venture capital, heralding its new technology focus with the hiring of Andy Fillat and Tony Abate as managing directors in its new Boston office.

Wilkus: American Capital continues to build out its franchise.

Tony Abate is joining American Capital from Ironside Ventures, where he put in a short stint as a general partner from 2003 to March of last year. Before that Abate had been a general partner at Battery Ventures.

Fillat, meanwhile, had spearheaded Advent International’s North American venture capital investment arm. According to a story in Private Equity Week, he left in late 2003, and had considered joining GrandBanks Capital before accepting this new role.

The venture focus for American Capital will be confined to the technology sector. The firm has a history of involvement in later stage deals in the space, but Fillat and Abate will give the firm an added early-stage bent.

Malon Wilkus, the president and CEO of American Capital, said in a statement, “American Capital has invested approximately $900 million in 10 technology companies in its existing portfolio. These companies generally are mature, high performing, cash flowing companies with substantial EBITDA margins and excellent growth rates…We anticipate Andy and Tony will expand our existing technology investment business by investing in earlier stage technology.”

In addition to its new Boston office, American Capital also intends to build out its team and its geographic presence with plans for an office in California.

American Capital has made giant strides in expanding its franchise recently. Last October, the firm held a final €750 million close on its inaugural European fund, and in November, the firm recruited Les Brown, the former Acting Secretary of the US Army, to head its activity in the federal contracting space.