From my column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer:
First Round Capital cofounder Josh "Kopelman plans to announce Wednesday that he's moving First Round's main office from West Conshohocken, near his Main Line home, to 4040 Locust St., a half-block from Penn. His new base is a heavy-beamed brick building that housed one of Urban Outfitters' early stores. First Round has satellite offices in Silicon Valley and Manhattan.
First Round Capital "is now the third-busiest venture-capital firm in the United States. First Round invested in 71 technology companies last year, trailing only Silicon Valley-based rivals New Enterprise Associates and Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers, though First Round's deals tend to be smaller."
"Kopelman 'is one of the preeminent venture guys in the country. His cards say, 'Menlo Park, New York - and West Conshohocken'?' said David J. Adelman, head of Campus Apartments and co-owner of First Round's new home, with Steve Herman's University Enterprises. "I told [Kopelman], 'We have great space. It's time to get you down here.' "
But first, the city had to scrap its unwelcoming investment partnerships tax...
Kopelman wants Philly's university/tech community to be as tight as the Stanford/Silicon Valley marriage or the MIT/Harvard/Boston-area combination. It might have been -- if Penn hadn't chased the developers of the ENIAC computer off campus and out of town after World War II by demanding control. (Stanford is supposed to have been much more welcoming to Fairchild, Intel, etc.)
But now central Philadelphia is a growing residential and retail center -- a pleasant, convenient place to work and even live -- and Kopelman says the time is ripe to move downtown.