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Running Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s investment program used to be a lot more exciting for partner Mario Rosati. This time two years ago, Rosati had his hands full as one of two managing partners of the firm’s WS Investments. But like a lot of things that have shrunk during the downturn, Wilson’s investment program is a smaller operation than it was during the boom, Rosati said this week. “It was very exciting, but there is something to be said for a less frantic pace,” Rosati said. “I think that people in general are more cautious.” In late 2000, the firm had budgeted more than $15 million for investment, and partners had voluntarily chipped in about $12 million to a side-by-side fund, Rosati had said at the time. The firm has currently budgeted about one-quarter the amount it had set aside for investments in 2000, he said. As for the voluntary investment funds, which partners can opt into or out of, the lack of enthusiasm for investing has resulted in a pool about half the size it was two years ago, Rosati said. While roughly the same number of partners are chipping in, their contributions are smaller, he said. And the money isn’t going out as quickly as it used to, he said. The investment committees have invested about 20 percent of what they had put into new companies two years ago. The reason for the shrinkage is smaller deals as well as fewer of them, Rosati said. “We don’t invest as much in the opportunities that are presented,” he said. While two years ago the firm was pitching $50,000 to $100,000 into the venture capital rounds of clients, the firm is now making investments of $20,000 to $50,000. Still, for all the shrinking numbers and activity levels, the current environment isn’t so different from what it looked like years ago before the boom, Rosati said. “We’re getting back to a more normal time.”

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