Mary Meeker, who revealed in September plans to leave Kleiner Perkins after an eight-year run with the venture firm, is reportedly looking to raise up to $1.25 billion for her debut fund. So says Business Insider, citing multiple sources.
As Meeker told Recode a couple of months ago, she is forming her own late-stage investing firm with three of her KP colleagues, including Mood Rowghani, who joined the firm as a general partner in 2014; Noah Knauf, who joined the firm as a general partner in 2016; and Juliet de Baubigny, a senior partner who joined Kleiner Perkins nearly 18 years ago.
Their departures come as Kleiner Perkins was weighing whether or not to raise another growth fund, according to Recode’s report. It suggested that over time, a cultural misfit between Kleiner’s early and later-stage groups became more pronounced — though the final decision to split off happened abruptly.
In the short term at least, the move seems a blow for Kleiner, which has brought on star investors to help lead its early-stage practice — Mamoon Hamid, formerly of Social Capital, and Ilya Fushman, formerly of Index Ventures — but which suddenly has no women in its senior ranks.
Months before Meeker disclosed that she was leaving with de Baubigny, another longtime general partner, Beth Seidenberg, was learned to be co-founding her own venture outfit. Seidenberg has since closed her debut fund.
More newly, as we reported a couple of weeks ago, Lynne Chou-O’Keefe, who has spent the last five-plus years investing in healthcare on behalf of the firm, is raising her own debut fund. According to an SEC filing, the firm is called Define Ventures, and it has already locked down $50 million in capital commitments from a handful of investors.
Not every venture firm has senior women at the top of the org chart, but for Kleiner, the male-heavy line-up is a bit more glaring, given that it was sued in 2012 for gender discrimination by former partner Ellen Pao.
Pao famously lost her case against the firm in 2015, but the drawn-out episode kept a harsh spotlight on Kleiner Perkins for several years, during which questions about succession and equality were frequently raised by outsiders, and numerous of its partners left. Among these is Aileen Lee, who formed Cowboy Ventures; Matt Murphy, who joined Menlo Ventures; Trae Vassallo, who formed Defy Partners; Chi-Hua Chien, who formed Goodwater Capital; and Ben Kortlang, Brook Porter, Daniel Oros and David Mount, who formed the venture firm G2VP.
Meeker — who before joining Kleiner had risen through the ranks of Morgan Stanley over 19 years, becoming the head of its global technology research practice — supported the firm throughout Pao’s trial, testifying that she had not experienced discrimination at Kleiner.
At the time, she called the firm the “best place to be a woman in the business.”
Meeker appeared to have an especially close relationship with Kleiner Perkins’s most famous investor, John Doerr, who recruited her personally and who stepped down from his day-to-day management of the firm in 2016.
If Meeker and company succeed in reaching, or surpassing, a target of $1.25 billion for their new effort — and in the current environment, it’s easy to imagine they will — their firm will immediately be among the biggest women-led investment firms in terms of assets under management.
The amount wouldn’t be materially different for Meeker’s team, however. Kleiner raised its last growth fund in 2016, closing on $1 billion. Meeker, Rowghani, Knauf and Ted Schlein, who has been a managing partner at Kleiner for decades, had been overseeing that vehicle together.
Kleiner had also raised its seventh and most recent early-stage fund in 2016, closing it with $400 million in capital commitments.
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