New Enterprise Associates (commonly referred to as NEA) was once the largest venture capital firm in the world, and is still right near the top with $20 billion in assets under management. NEA launched its newest (and eventually largest) fund this spring, with a target of $3.6 billion. Curalate is a Philly company in its portfolio; larger examples are Uber, and Workday. NEA is equally as powerful on the life sciences side.
NEA profiles today as a large Silicon Valley VC with a strong east coast presence. But if you haven’t been around for awhile, you may not realize it was Baltimore born & bred, a product of an innovative investment management ecosystem including T Rowe Price and Alex Brown.
But in early June 2009, Louis Citron, the general counsel of New Enterprise Associates on St. Paul Street, sent an email to Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announcing NEA was leaving Baltimore. This was not like the Irsays leaving town in the middle of the night for a new stadium in Indy.
In the email, Citron told the mayor the firm is moving to the suburbs because their employees no longer feel safe in the city. “We had people held up at gunpoint,” Citron said. “A number of us have had our cars broken into, and it’s very expensive to get them repaired.” In the e-mail, he noted the “recent local beatings by roving teenagers during the day in this neighborhood, the raucous club in the basement of the Belvedere and other gang violence throughout the city.” NEA worried about the safety of clients visiting the office.
NEA might have eventually left anyway, though its east coast headquarters is now in DC. But its hard to lose economic gems like that and remain viable as a business center.