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Venture Notebook: Noro-Moseley will keep eye on Digital Media
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NMP's Michael Elliott

The news last week that Noro-Moseley Partners and digital-media specialist and General Partner Greg Foster had parted ways may have sent an uncertain message to Nashville media startups.

In an effort to dispell any such effects, NMP Partner Michael Elliott told VNC in a series of exchanges that with the technology share of NMP's portfolio having shrunken in recent years to less than 60 percent and with deal flow "strong" in such alternative areas as "core IT and healthcare," the firm decided it was time for "some thinning" with respect to digital media (DM).

The blog Localtechwire said Elliott stressed that NMP is emphasizing "tech-enabled business services, mobile technology and SaaS solutions."  Elliott told VNC that, while the firm is "absolutely" still entertaining digital deals, "we simply do not need one full resource dedicated to DM given the actual allocation of portfolio investments."

Elliott further told VNC  "NMP is continuing to review DM deals as a part of our larger investment strategy"; and, that longer-term "the digital media side is going to be an important area for investment, and we don't want to send a confusing message around that."

The door swings both ways: Shortly before announcement of Foster's departure
, NMP announced George Mackie (at right) had joined the firm as a venture partner. His career has included a stint with the Charlotte-based Wakefield Group (where Elliott served eight years as managing director, before joining NMP). Earlier, Mackie was founder-CEO of DBS Systems Corp., which provides billing and customer care services to DIRECTV, Inc.

Prior to DBS, Mackie was the CEO of several IS-software companies that specialized in transaction- processing systems.  Not known: Whether Mackie was involved in closing a transaction Elliott told VNC the firm has recently made in cellular backhaul.  Elliott declined to provide specifics on that deal, at this time.  Note: NMP is an investor in Brentwood-based Frontstream Payments.

Asked why N-M chose not to apply for the state's TNInvestco program, Elliott said while NMP recognizes there's a lot of excitement around TNInvestco, NMP did not think such involvement would "blend" well with its existing obligations and operations.

In an article published Sept. 30, Foster (at left), who had joined NMP 18 months earlier from Turner Broadcasting System, told the Atlanta Business Journal he was eager to leverage his experience elsewhere. He reportedly also said he would continue to advise two NMP portfolio companies, Clearleap, a developer of video technologies; and, 2080 Media, a startup built largely on acquisition of a assets from PlayOn Sports, a Turner Broadcasting unit. Foster, now 36, handled M&A, JVs and new-media ventures for Turner for less than three years.

Foster is listed as chair-elect of the corporate venture capital group advisory board of the National Venture Capital Association. The Clearleap website notes that Foster "joined Turner after it acquired his company, Southern Direct, a business focused on building branded e-commerce extensions to linear cable channels"; and, notes that Foster was previously on the management teams of iXL Enterprises and Silverpop Systems.

Foster apparently began his career with Deloitte Consulting.  He holds a bachelor's in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Council on Economic Education.

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Tags: cellular, DBS Systems Corp., digital media, DIRECTTV, entertainment, Frontstream Payments, George Mackie, Greg Foster, health IT, investing, Michael Elliott, Noro-Moseley Partners, SaaS, technology, venture capital, Wakefield Group

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