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The theme: decidedly retro. “[W]e’re going ‘back to the future’ returning to Kleiner’s roots,” the disembodied voice of the firm wrote under a stylized take on its logo that would make Marty McFly jealous. “We believe that venture is a non-scalable, boutique craft. It requires incredibly dedicated practitioners with diverse and complementary backgrounds that span technology, operating, and investing. Above all, in an increasingly fragmented market, venture requires focus.”
This appears to be among the largest early-stage funds Kleiner Perkins has raised to date. Fund XVII, closed in 2016, was $400 million. Fund XVI had targeted $450 million, according to an SEC filing from 2014.
“KP 18 marks the beginning of a new chapter for Kleiner Perkins,” the firm wrote. Though not explicitly mentioned in the blog post, Kleiner Perkins has had to undergo some reorganization as senior partners from the firm left to start firms of their own. Importantly, those people were largely responsible for the late-stage segment of Kleiner Perkins’s investment business.
Mary Meeker, perhaps best known for her annual and exhaustive reports on internet trends, announced in September 2018 that she would eventually leave Kleiner Perkins to start her own late-stage venture firm. Around that time, Crunchbase News spoke with a person familiar with Kleiner Perkins’s performance, who said that the firm’s late-stage practice was also its most lucrative, from the standpoint of returns. In January, Crunchbase News covered reports suggesting Meeker’s new firm will be called Bond and is targeting $1.25 billion. Kleiner partners Mood Rowghani, Noah Knauf and Juliet de Baubigny are reportedly joining that firm.
Other investors left the firm as well. Dr. Beth Seidenberg, a key investor on Kleiner Perkins’s biotech investing team, stepped down from her day-to-day role at the firm in May 2018. The former members of Kleiner Perkins’s Green Growth Fund (an initiative bolstered internally by John Doerr’s enthusiasm for cleantech and renewable energy) spun out to form their own entity, G2VP, which ultimately raised $350 million for its debut fund announced in June 2018. (Crunchbase News broke the story of G2VP’s first SEC filing, in which it disclosed it raised $298 million from its first close.)
When the firm announced its last early-stage fund, Fund XVII, back in June 2016, Kleiner Perkins also announced it had raised $1 billion for its third Digital Growth Fund, a late-stage investment vehicle on the same day. Now, in 2019, Kleiner Perkins is still making late-stage deals (recently in fintech company Plaid’s $250 million Series C, a deal led by Mary Meeker), but it seems like that will eventually come to an end, at least for now. Whenever that re-starts, it’ll be back to the future all over again.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias