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VSpring, Signal Peak merge venture capital firms, may raise fund in 2013

Published: Thursday, Sept. 3 2015 11:50 a.m. MDT

Signal Peak Ventures leadership (Signal Peak) Signal Peak Ventures leadership (Signal Peak)

SALT LAKE CITY — VSpring Capital, one of Utah's largest venture capital funds, will merge with Signal Peak Ventures to invest in regional companies.

The combined firm, which will keep the Signal Peak name, will manage $450 million of committed capital, partners Dinesh Patel and Ron Heinz said this week. The firm wants to raise a new investment fund of $150 million to $200 million in 2013.

Partners at the firm will include Patel, Heinz, vSpring's Scott Petty and Signal Peak's Brandon Tidwell. They will each equally split ownership. VSpring managing director Ed Ekstrom will become a venture partner and work with portfolio companies. By joining, the firm can pull from a larger pool of limited partners who invest money.

"If we're successful, there are a lot of people who will want to invest in our ongoing success," Heinz said.

Brandon Tidwell (Signal Peak) Brandon Tidwell (Signal Peak)

Before the merger, vSpring had $400 million of committed capital and was investing in about 45 companies, while Signal Peak was investing $50 million in 10 companies.

The partners typically invest $5 million to $12 million in companies and look to own 15 percent to 20 percent at exit, Patel said. Potential investments typically will be found in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

Utah has several areas to invest in, the partners said. Heinz said he likes software as a service businesses because they can scale globally and information security companies such as South Jordan-based Solera Networks. Patel said there is a lot of talent in the medical device sector.

Heinz said the intermountain region has an "expanding base of entrepreneurs."

Ron Heinz (Signal Peak) Ron Heinz (Signal Peak)

"You combine that with what has been great innovation and great technology — as far as the type of software engineers we have, the type of people in the medical field that have always been innovators — I think that is really going to bode well for the state over the next couple of decades," he said.

The V100, which tracks venture entrepreneurs, will maintain its name, Patel said. The merger signals an end to the vSpring firm name in Utah.

Signal Peak was founded last year by Canopy Venture's venture capital team.

email: jburke@desnews.com

Lawyers want federal case for Grand Canyon Skywalk

PEACH SPRINGS, Ariz. — Attorneys for a Las Vegas developer are asking a federal appellate court to weigh in on a dispute over the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Scott Petty (Signal Peak) Scott Petty (Signal Peak)

A judge ruled earlier this month that David Jin's attorneys must fight in Hualapai tribal court to retain Jin's contractual rights to the popular tourist attraction.

Jin's attorneys contend the court narrowly interpreted a law regarding the bad faith exception to exhausting remedies in tribal court.

They've appealed to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

The tribe and Jin have been locked in a yearlong dispute that led the tribe to cut Jin out of managing the Skywalk.

The glass bridge juts out 70 feet from the Grand Canyon on Hualapai land in northwestern Arizona, giving tourists a view of the Colorado River below.

— Associated Press

Dinesh Patel (Signal Peak) Dinesh Patel (Signal Peak)

Utah county ranked 4th in nation for job creation

PROVO — Utah County ranked No. 4 in the nation for the percentage of new jobs created over a 12-month period.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday that from September 2010 to September 2011, employment increased in 271 of the 322 largest U.S. counties, including 4.5 percent in Utah's second largest county. Salt Lake County — which saw a 2.8 percent increase — ranked No. 48, while no other Utah county ranked among the top 200.

Topping the list was Williamson County, Tenn., posting the largest increase with a gain of 5.4 percent over the year, compared with national job growth of 1.6 percent. The report stated that within Williamson, the largest employment increase occurred in professional and business services, which gained 1,743 jobs over the year, or 9.0 percent.

 (Signal Peak) (Signal Peak)

— Jasen Lee

Bet networks entering prepaid card market

WASHINGTON — BET Networks is entering the exploding business of prepaid cards. It is partnering with Netspend, one of the biggest prepaid card companies, in hopes of reaching millions of black Americans who don't use banks.

BET is the biggest brand name in black media. Netspend hopes BET's endorsement will help it turn some of BET's viewers into fee-paying customers.

Blacks are overrepresented among people who don't have bank accounts or who use high-cost services such as check-cashing and payday loans. Prepaid cards are marketed as a less expensive alternative.

Prepaid cards are like debit cards but aren't attached to a checking account and sometimes lack the consumer protections offered by debit and credit cards. The Federal Reserve says they are the fastest-growing electronic payment method.

— Associated Press

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