- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2001

The Washington area will soon be home to a second venture capital firm from Israel, one with deep roots in the United States.

Portview Communications Partners, run by two American emigres to Israel, plans to open an office either in Northern Virginia or the District within the next two weeks. The company is already looking for deals in the telecommunications infrastructure sector, says Sandy Roskes, the firm's representative in Washington.

"We really needed an office in the United States," says Mr. Roskes, an American who is returning to the area after a multiyear hiatus in Israel. "We've been coming here a lot, and now is the time."

Portview considered putting down American roots in California, but rejected that option in light of the lengthy flights and nine-hour time difference with Israel. The other option was Boston, but Portview opted for this region in light of its focus on communications.

Portview arrives in the area with a pocket full of money. The firm closed on a $61 million venture fund in September, money garnered largely from European investors, some Americans and a "tiny bit" from Israelis, Mr. Roskes says.

The firm's motto, on its Web site and repeated numerous times by Mr. Roskes, is "TCB things carriers buy." It has already invested, for example, in a Massachusetts company, Mintera Corp., that manufactures light-based transmission equipment, and another in California, Quicksilver Technology, that makes chips for wireless technology.

Portview has chosen a "challenging" time to jump into the telecommunications area, Mr. Roskes concedes. The Washington area has seen a forest fire of failures in the sector over the past year, with local giants like PSINet and Teligent struggling to stay afloat.

"At least we raised our fund at a fortuitous time," Mr. Roskes says.

Portview hopes to carve out a niche by offering its portfolio companies a crack at the European market. The founders of Portview, Robin Hacke and Julie Kunstler, developed contacts there through their Israeli advisory firm, HK Catalyst Strategy and Finance.

"Our strong selling point to the U.S. companies is our trans-Atlantic play," Mr. Roskes says.

Portview will be a relatively tiny player in the Washington area, and one without the level of experience in venture capital that the giants in the field have, Mr. Roskes concedes. The firm has been investing for only three years through a smaller fund, though HK Catalyst has sold advisory services for the better part of a decade.

"It's not the same level of experience as others, but we're not competing as a Washington-area fund," says Mr. Roskes, formerly an engineering consultant. "We're not going head-to-head with the big players either."

Portview is the fourth foreign venture capital firm to land in the region, and the second from Israel, after Reston-based Yazam. Area venture capitalists, such as Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, have also cultivated links in other countries, including Israel.

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