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Bruce V. Bigelow 2/17/11 San Diego’s Avalon Ventures has had some noteworthy success in the past couple of months. The 28-year-old firm raised $200 million for its ninth fund, which was oversubscribed by 33 percent. Avalon, which invests in both life sciences and Web technologies, also took some winnings off the table with the recent sale of a portfolio company, Boston, MA-based BioVex Group, for $425 million (with another $575 million in potential milestone payments). In addition, two other Avalon portfolio companies were acquired in December (reportedly at significant multiples of invested capital): San Francisco-based Cloudkick went to Rackspace and AOL acquired New York’s Pictela.
Though wary of breaking a tradition of solidarity against opponents of genetic engineering, other companies are distancing themselves from Monsanto. "We have a PR mountain to climb," says Willy de Greef, head of regulatory and government affairs at Novartis Seeds in Basel, Switzerland. "You have a problem if the market leader has firmly set ideas about how to do things, which others might not agree with," he adds. "An expensive failure can be made into an asset if you've learnt from it, but Monsanto still has some learning to do."