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Mary Meeker Will Leave Kleiner Perkins to Launch Her Own Investment Fund
Here’s a stunning shakeup in the venture capital world: Mary Meeker, arguably the most high-profile investor at Kleiner Perkins, is leaving the storied VC firm later this year to launch her own investment fund, as first reported by Recode,
Meeker, who publishes the annual must-read Internet Trends Report, will spin out to form an independent investment firm, joined by the other members of Kleiner Perkins’ Digital Growth team – Mood Rowghani, Noah Knauf and Juliet de Baubigny. The new firm – which does not yet have a name – will focus on late-stage investing.
The importance of Meeker’s departure can’t be understated: Once legendary investor John Doerr announced that he was stepping back from his day-today responsibilities two years ago, Meeker became Kleiner Perkins’ most prominent investor. Interestingly, Meeker’s departure doesn’t seem to just be tied to a difference in investment philosophies, but also perhaps a clash of personalities, according to Recode.
The departures of Meeker and her colleagues — Mood Rowghani, Noah Knauf and Juliet de Baubigny — are rooted in different visions for the types of deals they would like to do. But like so many disputes in recent years at Kleiner Perkins, there was also persistent friction between the two sides in ways that had little to do with the firm’s core business — over mundane things such as whether to host a holiday party in San Francisco or closer to Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley — according to people familiar with the situation.
Kleiner Perkins is one of tech’s oldest firms and its early investments in Amazon and Google have made it part of Silicon Valley lore. That legacy has helped sustain the firm even as it self-admittedly missed out on a wave of generation-defining startups. Meeker’s new team will lose the connection to that brand, effectively placing a bet on the singular brand of Meeker.
Of course, the importance of Meeker’s departure – who is also the most prominent female investor at a firm that is still dealing with the aftermath of Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination suit – is being downplayed by Kleiner Perkins’ partners, Recode reports.
“I don’t think it’s a huge deal,” Ted Schlein, who succeeded Doerr as the de facto head of the firm, said in an interview. The late-stage investing group, which started in 2011, “continued to diverge away from what the core part of Kleiner Perkins has done for 46 years, and will continue to do for another 46 years.”
People familiar with the situation described a distant relationship between the early-stage group, which backs U.S. startups that sometimes don’t have a finished product, and the later-stage group, which can compete with sovereign wealth funds to back companies worth billions of dollars all across the world. The two teams spent fairly little time with one another in recent years, sharing office space, some limited partners, and — critically — a storied brand. But deals? Not many.
Kleiner Perkins sounds like a weird place to work.