No more spark? Fuse Capital joins the walking dead

October 29, 2010, 6:13 PM UTC

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about Fuse Capital, the venture capital firm that also has gone by such names as ComVentures and Velocity Interactive Group. Much of it has been negative, as firm boss Roland Van der Meer has fired partners as if he were auditioning for the Steinbrenner role on Seinfeld. Plus, the returns have been anything but stellar.

This week, Fuse took what might be its death blow: Ross Levinsohn, a partner brought aboard in late 2007 to help right the ship, quit to run U.S. operations of Yahoo (YHOO). This comes more than a year after Jon Miller — the guy Levinsohn joined with — left to run digital media for News Corp., and at around the same time that fellow partner Mickie Rosen was named CEO of a Fuse-backed startup called Tecca.

In other words, Fuse Capital is now a formal member of the Walking Dead Club. As such, some readers have asked if I’m planning to write a grand post-mortem.

Maybe someday, but the thing about zombies is that they’ve got more spark in their step than do the typical corpses.

For Fuse, that means collecting over $8 million in fees from limited partners this year, based on legacy portfolios. That figure will decline a bit next year, but still will represent a pretty generous living for the small handful of remaining staffers.

So, for now, the real question is if those hangers-on will be allowed to continue drawing paychecks. Some Fuse investors already have begun (very) early discussions about firing the general partner, with Saints Capital among the possible replacements.

There is a good case to be made that limited partners should dump the remaining Fuse team out of spite, given its historical inability to play well with others. But, ultimately, this will come down to the following judgment: Can a replacement general partner cost less while providing similar portfolio management services – particularly for a couple of Fuse portfolio companies in India?

If so, then a deal will be struck. If not, LPs will just avert their eyes, while working to help prevent other GPs from becoming zombies.