Tag Archives: Kleiner Perkins

Why was Netscape a weird example (to me) of Equity Sharing between Founders

netscape_logo

CLARK ANDREESSEN
Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark, the founders of Netscape

You may not know I owe a lot to Nesheim’s High Tech Start Up, which cap. tables I took inspiration from. If you do not know Nesheim’s, let me just quote Steve Blank’s in his bibliography for 4 steps to the Epiphany: “High Tech Start Up is the gold standard of the nuts and bolts of all the financing stages from venture capital to IPOs”.

There was one such cap. table which was striking to me and I never mentioned it until now. Here it is now scanned from Nesheim’s book. I did not ask for authorization but I hope not to get in trouble!

Netscape-Nesheim
Click on picture to enlarge

Do you see why I found it striking? If not have a look again. If not again, follow me for a few minutes. I decided to look for Netscape IPO prospectus, which I could find in two formats, an html IPO prospectus on the Internet archive as well as a pdf S-1 filing document. They give slightly different data, but I could build my own table as follows.

Netscape-captable
Click on picture to enlarge

And now? Well I had never understood why the two founders, James Clark and Marc Andreessen could have such a different amount of equity. How could it be a 10x difference even if James Clark was a more experienced entrepreneur (he was a former Stanford professor and co-founder of Silicon Graphics) and Marc Andreessen had no experience but was the author of Mosaic, the predecessor of Netscape as a browser. (Netscape is a sad illustration of bad relationships between a university – the University of Illinois – where a technology was developed and entrepreneurs, but this is another story.)

Well I found the answer thanks to the two documents: Jim Clark was
– first, a co-founder and both founders had 720’000 founders’ shares and
– second, a business angel: he invested $3M in the series A and then $1.1M in the series B. He got the equivalent of 9M commmon shares for his investment.

This comforts me in the general explanation I usually give about sharing equity between founders and then investors, managers, employees as you may see in Equity split in start-ups or on Slideshare. First founders split equity based on their non-cash contributions, then investments are taken into account.

The Venture Capital Secret: 3 Out of 4 Start-Ups Fail

In a recent article from the WSJ (thanks Greg :-), it is claimed that Venture Capital is much less succesful than thought: 3 Out of 4 Start-Ups Fail. Well I am surprised by the surprise. I did some copy paste of the paper below, and I put in bold the things I found interesting. You should jump there and come back here!

I have done my analyis in the past. You can go back to by 2’700 stanford related companies (slide 9 of the pdf) or more anecdotically to Kleiner Perkins first fund.

So yes, there is a lot of failure in VC and the numbers do not count so much. It might be that in the past, there were fewer failures than today, and the reasons would be numerous, but the important point in the paper is the following: “the truth is that if you don’t have a lot of failures, then you’re just not doing it right, because that means that you’re not investing in risky ventures”

 

 

From the WSJ article:

It looks so easy from the outside. An entrepreneur with a hot technology and venture-capital funding becomes a billionaire in his 20s. But now there is evidence that venture-backed start-ups fail at far higher numbers than the rate the industry usually cites. About three-quarters of venture-backed firms in the U.S. don’t return investors’ capital, according to recent research by Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. Compare that with the figures that venture capitalists toss around. The common rule of thumb is that of 10 start-ups, only three or four fail completely. Another three or four return the original investment, and one or two produce substantial returns. The National Venture Capital Association estimates that 25% to 30% of venture-backed businesses fail.

Mr. Ghosh chalks up the discrepancy in part to a dearth of in-depth research into failures. “We’re just getting more light on the entrepreneurial process,” he says. His findings are based on data from more than 2,000 companies that received venture funding, generally at least $1 million, from 2004 through 2010. He also combed the portfolios of VC firms and talked to people at start-ups, he says. The results were similar when he examined data for companies funded from 2000 to 2010, he says. Venture capitalists “bury their dead very quietly,” Mr. Ghosh says. “They emphasize the successes but they don’t talk about the failures at all.”

There are also different definitions of failure. If failure means liquidating all assets, with investors losing all their money, an estimated 30% to 40% of high potential U.S. start-ups fail, he says. If failure is defined as failing to see the projected return on investment—say, a specific revenue growth rate or date to break even on cash flow—then more than 95% of start-ups fail, based on Mr. Ghosh’s research.
Failure often is harder on entrepreneurs who lose money that they’ve borrowed on credit cards or from friends and relatives than it is on those who raised venture capital.

“People are embarrassed to talk about their failures, but the truth is that if you don’t have a lot of failures, then you’re just not doing it right, because that means that you’re not investing in risky ventures,” Mr. Cowan says. “I believe failure is an option for entrepreneurs and if you don’t believe that, then you can bang your head against the wall trying to make it work.”

Overall, nonventure-backed companies fail more often than venture-backed companies in the first four years of existence, typically because they don’t have the capital to keep going if the business model doesn’t work, Harvard’s Mr. Ghosh says. Venture-backed companies tend to fail following their fourth years—after investors stop injecting more capital, he says.

Of all companies, about 60% of start-ups survive to age three and roughly 35% survive to age 10, according to separate studies by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes U.S. entrepreneurship. Both studies counted only incorporated companies with employees. And companies that didn’t survive might have closed their doors for reasons other than failure, for example, getting acquired or the founders moving on to new projects. Languishing businesses were counted as survivors.

Of the 6,613 U.S.-based companies initially funded by venture capital between 2006 and 2011, 84% now are closely held and operating independently, 11% were acquired or made initial public offerings of stock and 4% went out of business, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Less than 1% are currently in IPO registration.

—Vanessa O’Connell contributed to this article.
Write to Deborah Gage at deborah.gage@dowjones.com

Something Ventured: a great movie

I just watched Something Ventured and I loved it. Loved it so much I plan to have it shown to as many EPFL students as possible in the spring! It is a movie about passion, enthusiasm, energy, changing the world and yes… about money. When asked about their hope about the movie, producers Molly Davis Paul Holland said: Our high hope for this film is that every student that wants to be an entrepreneur—at every level, high school, business school, on corporate campuses—sees it. We want to see more young people fall in love with entrepreneurship… And if we have a quieter, more serious goal, it’s that I want policymakers to look at this and say ‘What can we do to make it easier, not harder, for people in this country to start those kinds of businesses?’

I would have said I hope that every student — at every level — sees it. And the producers added we were trying to explain our vision for the movie and said, ‘What we are envisioning is a movie like Reds [Warren Beatty’s 1981 film about the original Bolsheviks], where you go back in time to talk about an exciting period — in that case 1917 Russia — and ask people in the present day what it was like back then. Dan said ‘Ok, so you want to make Reds but without the Communists.’ That is ultimately what came about: A really beautiful dialogue with really interesting men and the people they financed.

“A Film About Capitalism, and (Surprise) It’s a Love Story.”

This is the title of another article about the movie, where the journalist says “moviegoers can see what might be the rarest bird in the documentary world: a genuine love story about capitalism.” Somewhere else, the moviemaker, Dayna Goldfine explains: “I think what compelled us to take this one on, even though it is a positive view of business, was, one, it’s a chance to do this kind of alternative view. But also, what these guys were doing – both the entrepreneurs and the venture capitalists – was creating real products. So much of what has come down in terms of the financial tragedy of the last few years has been caused by the investment bankers –people who were really just creating financial instruments, as opposed to changing the world with technology by creating or funding an Apple Computer, or a Cisco Systems, or a Genentech”. Co-moviemaker Dan Geller adds: “I wouldn’t say that money was incidental – money was important – but the overwhelming enthusiasm was for taking these brilliant ideas and these inchoate technologies and making something earth-shattering with them. That’s the energy, I think, that comes through in these stories.”

Yes it is a movie about capitalism, about business. But it is also a movie about enthusiasm, happiness, failure also. It begins in 1957 with Fairchild and Arthur Rock. It could have begun with French expatriate Georges Doriot. A professor at Harvard who supposedly taught manufacturing (in fact it was about how many glasses to drink at a cocktail party and how to read newspapers – go to obituaries), Doriot did not create venture capital with ARD (even if he funded Digital Equipment – DEC) – Rock created the term later, but Doriot inspired most of the heroes of the movie: Tom Perkins, Bill Draper, Pitch Johnson, Dick Kramlich. And these guys funded Intel, Atari, Apple, Tandem, Genentech, Cisco. (The movie tells stories from the 60s to the 80s, but Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook could have been added). Indeed with the movie, the Social Network, it’s the best movie I have seen about high-tech entrepreneurship. What I had nearly forgotten in The Social Network is the closed Boston society (Zuckerberg desperate efforts to enter high-end social clubs). Here also, the Wild West explains its success through openness and risk taking.

And the authors did not cheat. It is also about painful memories, how Powerpoint ended up in Microsoft hands, maybe because the entrepreneur had found it too tough before or how one of the rare women in this world, Sandy Lerner, the co-founder of Cisco, may have not forgiven her firing from the company she had created: “you gotta understand the game that you’re in. […] Look, there wasn’t a box for me.” So yes, it is also about failures, “living deads”, but there is a “feel good” attitude, funny moments, such as when Valentine visiting the Atari factory does not recognize the cigarette brands he smokes!! Or when Gordon Moore (the famous Moore law) remembers that Intel went public the same day as PlayBoy.

So if you do not know much (or even if you do know a lot) about Fairchild, Intel, Atari, Tandem, Genentech, Apple, Cisco, and even if you do not care about entrepreneurship, run and watch Something Ventured. Hopefully you will care!

When Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia co-invest(ed).

I end 2012 with two posts related to my beloved Silicon Valley. This one is about the two great Venture Capital firms Sequoia Capital and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers. The next one will be about Palo Alto-based author of thrillers, Keith Raffel.

I have already said a lot about these two firms. You can for example read again the following on KP:
About KP first fund (3 posts)
Tom Perkins, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist
Robert Swanson, 1947-1999
and about Sequoia:
When Valentine was talking (2 posts)

The recent IPO of Jive is the motivation for this new post because Jive has both funds as co-investors. I am obviously providing my now-usual cap. table and what you can discover here is the huge amounts of money both funds have poured in the start-up ($57M for Sequoia and $40M for KP) … is this still venture capital? I am not sure.


Click on picture to enlarge

I am not writing an article on Jive here but let me add that we have again here two founders who had each 50% of the start-up at creation and end up with 8%, the investors have 30%. What is really unusual is that the company raised money in 2007, six years after inception. A sign of a new trend in high-tech?

Now back to Sequoia and KP. When they co-invested in Google in 1999, I thought it had been a very unusual event. David Vise in his Google Story (pages 66-68; I also have mine!) explains how the start-up founders desired to have both funds to “divide and conquer”, hoping no single fund would control them. When I met Pierre Lamond, then at Sequoia, in 2006, I was surprised to learn from him that in fact the two funds has regularly co-invested together. As often in Silicon Valley, it is about co-opetition, not just competition.

So I did my short analysis. A first Internet search got me the following:
– The question on Quora “How unusual is it for both Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia to co-invest in a company?” (August 2010) gives 11 recent investments, including Jive and Google.
– Russ Garland in the Wall Street Journal adresses the topic in “Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Combo Has Solid Track Record” (July 2010). He says: “But the two Menlo Park, Calif.-based firms have done plenty of other deals together – at least 53, according to VentureWire records. It’s been a fruitful relationship: 29 of them have gone public. They include Cypress Semiconductor Corp., Electronic Arts Inc., Flextronics International and Symantec Corp. That track record lends credibility to the excitement generated by the Jive investment. But most of those 53 deals were done prior to 2000; the two firms have been less collaborative since then. Of the handful of companies that both Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia have backed since 2000, at least one is out of business. That would be Abeona Networks, a developer of technology for Internet-based services.”
– Now in my own Equity List, I have 4 (Tandem, Cypress, EA, google) plus Jive.

So I did a more systematic analysis and found 55 companies. More than the WSJ! I will not put the full list here, but let me give more data: Kleiner has invested a total of $267M whereas Sequoia put $268M [this is strangely similar!], i.e. about $5M per start-up. On average, KP invested in round #2.07 and Sequoia in round #2.63, so a little later. Time to exit from foundation is 6.5 years. I found 27 IPOs (I miss two compared to the WSJ)

Is Garland right when he claims “But most of those 53 deals were done prior to 2000; the two firms have been less collaborative since then”? Here is my analysis:


Number of co-investments related to the start-up foundation year

If I look at the decades, it gives,
70s: 6,
80s: 30,
90s: 11,
00s: 7.
Clearly KP and Sequoia co-invested a lot in the 80s, much less in the 90s and 00s. Whereas the fields are

So what? I am not sure 🙂 . KP and Sequoia are clearly two impressive funds and as a conclusion, I’d like to thank Fredrik who pointed me to Business Week’s The Venture Capital Winners of 2011.

Sequoia and KP may not be #1 and #2, but their track record remains more than impressive. Here is a bad picture taken on an iPad!

A history of venture capital

I am surprised not to have published this before. It was one of my first work before I even wrote my book. It became its chapter 4. Venture capital is about 50 years old and it has changed a lot in parallel to innovation and high-tech. I hope you will enjoy these very visual slides!

Robert Swanson, 1947-1999

This is again one of my recent readings from old Red Herring. I had already published a post on Bob Swanson, the co-founder of Genentech. This RH article is not that different and I thought it would be important to mention the story again of Boyer and Swanson and the beginnings of the biotech industry. Here it is.

The cofounder of Genentech also founded an industry.

ON THE OCCASION of their deaths, the founders of technology companies can take some satisfaction that they started something From nothing. The best will be able to claim they founded companies that changed the world, and a lucky few will have built organizations that lasted. But almost no one will be able say they founded a company that created an entire industry. Robert Swanson, who died from brain cancer at his home in Hillsborough, California, on December 6, would be very justified in claiming to have started the biotechnology industry.

DREAMS 0F GENIES

Mr. Swanson was a 29-year-old venture capitalist with the firm that today is Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers when he collared Herbert W. Boyer, a scientist at the University of California at San Francisco who was researching recombinant gene therapy. Recombinant DNA is formed when DNA from different sources is combined to create new DNA molecules. Dr. Boyer thought that combining DNA—or gene splicing—would allow scientists to design the proteins necessary to treat particular diseases, and would liberate scientists from trial-and-error methods of protein testing. In 1976, venture capitalists, and even most academics, did not believe in the immediate commercial value of such research. Dr. Boyer himself was uncertain when gene-splicing would be a business. Nevertheless, Mr. Swanson convinced Dr. Boyer to grant him a ten-minute interview. “Here cornes this brash young entrepreneur filled with enthusiasm and ideas and ready to go,” Dr. Boyer says today. “I recognized right away that he had the drive and the understanding.” They formed Genentech, which is generally thought to be the first biotech company, later that year. Twenty-three years later—and in the very winter of Wall Street’s discontent with biotechnology—it is difficult to remember how revolutionary Genentech was. In 1977, Genentech produced the first human protein by splicing a gene with bacteria. Later Genentech created human insulin, the first drug produced by genetic engineering, which it licensed to Ely Lilly for the treatment of diabetes. It was the first biotechnology company to sell a drug it had developed on its own: human growth hormone, for children whose bodies do not produce enough of the hormone. And Genentech was the first biotechnology company to offer its shares in an initial public offering—which, until the Internet boom, was among the most spectacular Wall Street had ever seen. Genentech’s example made biotechnology possible by demonstrating to venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and scientists that a sustainable business could be based on genetic engineering. Today, there are more than 1,000 biotechnology companies in the United States, and Genentech remains one of the most successful.

INGENEOUS

Mr. Swanson was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving an undergraduate degree in chemistry and a graduate degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Before becoming a partner at Kleiner Perkins, Mr. Swanson was a VC at Citicorp Venture Capital. He was Genentech’s chief executive from the company’s founding until 1990, and was its chairman from 1990 to 1996. After retiring from Genentech in 1996, Mr. Swanson formed K&E Management, a private investment – management firm. He was also chairman of Tularik, a biotechnology firm that was preparing to go public in mid-December. As an entrepreneur he was courageous, ingenious, stubborn, and slightly crazy. “If you told him that doing something violated the rules of physics, he’d tell you the law must be wrong and you’d almost believe it,” said Arthur D. Levinson, the current chairman of Genentech. Friday afternoons at Genentech were devoted to theme parties, called Ho-hos—on Hawaiian theme days, Genentech’s chairman would invariably don a grass skirt and dance the hula for his employees. Mr. Swanson wished to change the world by commercializing, and therefore making widely available, new drugs based on gene splicing. He got his wish. Last year new pharmaceuticals developed by Genentech scientists (that is to say nothing of established drugs still being sold) earned more than $4 billion in revenues, according to MIT, and saved countless lives—if not, sadly, Mr. Swanson’s own.

Write to jason@redherring.com.

What Have VCs Really Done for Innovation?

“What Have VCs Really Done for Innovation?” This is the title of a post by Vivek Wadhwa dated September 20. You can find the full account on Techcrunch. I have to admit I was not happy with the content. Instead of saying immediatly why, I will let you read comments made by others as I shared their point of view. You can also read the post and all the comments, but they are numerous!

So, for example, I agreed with the following three comments:

by Ashok
It is true that the claims made by VCs are not realistic and vastly exaggerated. But, at the same time, we cannot forget that they have played key role in many innovative fields. By its very nature, a Venture Capitalist will invest only in a new promising project where he can hope to earn a handsome profit. There is nothing wrong in a VC selectively investing in projects. After all, we have to appreciate that for every one grand success, a VC may have seen 9 failures losing his money invested in projects which could not lead to big money. So, you have to judge the role of VCs also by their failed projects. Who would like to invest in a project which is likely to fail? Yet, it is a fact that a big percentage of projected financed by VCs fail. Does it not show the high risk involved in what VCs do? This being the position, what is wrong if they are selective in financing the projects? Therefore, the author’s observations “The fact is that VC’s follow innovation, they don’t lead. They go where they smell blood.” are not fully justified.
What about their failed projects? Did they not smell blood? Then why did they invest? Why did they fail then?
Unfortunately, the author has tried to present one-sided story without taking into consideration the problems which VCs might be facing.
Of course, at the cost of repetition, I would say that the tall claims made by the VCs are also not correct. To conclude, it is neither black nor white; it is some shade of grey. Truth lies somewhere in between the two extremes

then by Chris Yeh
This is one of the most dangerous and wrong-headed posts that I have read all year. And I’m flabbergasted by the lack of critical thinking displayed in the comments section.
There is definite truth to some of what Vivek has to say. The NVCA’s estimates are bogus, because they equate investing in a company with being responsible for its success. This is an egregiously egotistical assumption.
It may very well be true that the venture industry as a whole trails index investing. It’s hard to pick winners. But so does the entire actively managed mutual fund industry.
But the statement that “VCs at best have little to no impact on these companies and at worst have a negative impact” is absurd.
First, there is a major survivorship bias problem with the data. By interviewing successful companies, the study fails to prove whether VC makes success more or less likely. All it says is that the majority of successful new businesses in the US do not rely on VC.
A number of commentators seem to be of the impression that VCs make easy money by investing in companies after all the risk has been removed by the entrepreneur. This is talking out of both sides of one’s mouth. If the VCs aren’t taking risks, then how can they be delivering sub-par returns? By definition, they must be taking risks.
Venture capital plays an important role in the startup ecosystem. It provides high-risk equity capital to startup companies. Not every company can be a bootstrapped consumer Internet company. Many important businesses (semiconductors, hardware, biotech) require significant up-front capital. If VCs went away, would there be enough funding for these business? Do you seriously think banks would start lending to these companies?
I also wager that most of the commentators pooh-poohing VC would be glad to accept funding for their startups.

finally by ethanboss
… Of course there are VCs that don’t add value. As there are entrepreneurs who fail.: most of them. How ridiculous to claim that Sergey and Brin had already succeeded when KP and Sequoia invested. That shows a total lack of understanding of what it takes to build companies.
Also, I suppose capital would also grow on the trees for these “innovative” companies to go and harvest, so there is no need for VCs…
In the old days, when capital was hard to access there were some great entrepreneurs (few) that could get to profits without much help and capital. Some still do it but are the exception. The real world is a little different. You need capital and help with networks and other things to build a LARGE innovative company. Those things don’t grow on trees.

so here is the comment I made on September 25.

Vivek

I agree with many other people that you are too single-minded. I do not fully disagree with some elements of your analysis, which explains why you have so much support, BUT…

I was once a venture capitalist and I have neither an MBA nor a law degree but engineering degrees including a PhD and more importantly two years spent in Silicon Valley where I developed a passion for innovation and start-ups which I translated in becoming a VC.

One more fact in addition to the other contributions:

Surprisingly, Bill Gates had venture capitalists: this is taken from Microsoft IPO prospectus: “Mr. Marquardt has been a director of the Company since 1981. Since 1980, Mr. Marquardt has been a general partner of TVI Management. He has been with TVI Management since 1980. He is also a director of Archive Corporation and Sun Microsystems, Inc.” TVI had about 6% of Microsoft shares before the IPO.

Now what have VCs really done for innovation? You would have been more credible by saying what are they doing. But if you use the past, let me put some historical perspective:

– If investors (VC was not developed yet) had not funded Fairchild in 1957, Intel in 1968, Silicon Valley may not exist as it is. Your friend Vinod is maybe an exception, but there were many others. Arthur Rock helped in funding or funded directly Fairchild, Intel, Apple Computers.

– The story of Genentech is well-known (go on my blog for more if you wish): when Bob Swanson, a former VC at KP became convinced biotech had a future, he first convinced Boyer, the researcher, then his former colleague Tom Perkins to try. Both were skeptical, so you are right Entrepreneurs are in the driving seat, but without the inventor and the investor, Genentech and then the biotech industry may not have existed. The innovation did not exist yet and the VCs contributed a lot.

– Who do you think were the first VCs such as Gene Kleiner and Don Valentine and many others? They were former entrepreneurs who had the vision that funding the next generation would fuel innovation.

I am also doing an analysis of startups created with Stanford technology or by Stanford Alumini. The surprising fact is that so far about 30% of the companies (I have a total of 2’700) were funded by VCs. It does not mean VCs were responsible for their success, but they had their contribution (in the group are companies such as Cisco, Yahoo, eBay, Google, Rambus, Atheros and so many others)

Paul Graham says that for innovation, you just need nerds and rich people. I agree with him. The nerd is the brain and the investor is the blood. And then both will need a team, managers, employees which will constitute the full body. VCs do not contribute to inventions, but they help in their commercialization, which is I think the definition of innovation.

You are not only singled minded but I think you are hurting the innovation ecosystem. I see too many entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs scared with investors because they focus on your point of view. Of course, there have been terrible stories. But do not forget entrepreneurs need resources to succeed. Repeat entrepreneurs may bypass investors, business angels may help when resources are not too huge (maybe like in software though this is not even always true). But what about young people who develop semiconductors, biotechnologies, green technologies and have no money.

Money is never cheap or fun. But you need it. Let me finish with two quotes which show that I support some of your views but I still disagree with your overall vision.

In the book Founders at Work, one entrepreneur says about investors: “You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them” and even better Robert Noyce, Intel’s founders: “Look around who the heroes are. They aren’t lawyers, nor are they even so much the financiers. They’re the guys who start companies”

cheers

Herve

About Kleiner Perkins first fund (episode 3)

Eureka! After my previous episodes on KP’s first fund (episode 2 and episode 1), I got more.

A few days ago, I received an “old” book, The New Venturers: Inside the high stakes word of venture capital by John G. Wilson (Addison-Wesley, 1985). This is a great book about the early history of venture capital and Wilson had many interesting data. Chapter 5 “The New Entrepreneurs” is about Kleiner Perkins and Wilson publishes there KP’s first fund portfolio and performance. The data are consistent with Golis’ data in my previous post but still different…

Unfortunately Wilson does not mention his sources and when I asked Perkins again about these, he answered: “Each name rings true in my memory, but I have no idea if the numbers are accurate.   I think John Wilson got his hands on one or our reports  to the Limited Partners—not directly from us.  It’s probably all correct.”

If anyone can help me knowing more, i.e. access to KP’s LPs (Wilmington Securities for example) or to John Wilson… there might be an episode 4!

About Kleiner Perkins first fund (episode 2)

Was the information provided in episode 1 correct? I decided to try and contact Tom Perkins, the famous VC and he answered!

“I looked at the data you sent but, honestly, I don’t know where they came from.  We have never given this sort of thing out,  and we would have a lot of trouble even to find it today. I don’t think we had so many investments in that first fund—seventeen seems far to many.  The ones which I recall I put into my book. Having said that, I do believe that the fund would have achieved a modest return without Tandem and Genentech.  Those two were most important in changing our way for V.C. in the future.”

What does Perkins mean? In each case, KP co-founded the companies and did not simply invest in them. So where were these numbers coming from? After some research via the web, I found on Google Books the next table, from the book Enterprise and Venture Capital by Christopher Golis.

If correct, they would be however different from the ones I had before even if they are quite similar.

I checked Perkins’ book and Perkins obviously mentions Tandem and Genentech. He also mentions Advanced Recreation Equipment (aka Snow-Job, a company which converted motorbikes into snowmobiles) and American Athletic Shoe (re-soled tennis shoes). He adds: “Unsurprisingly, both failed”. He also mentions Qume as a nice return. Not much more.

So I asked Golis where all this came from…  “I cannot remember where I got it as I actually wrote the 4th edition some 8 years ago.  However I only put the table in the 4th edition.   Comparing the bibiographies of the third and fourth editions I would say the source was Gompers.  However Nesheim, Lewis, or Kaplan are potentially other sources. Hope this is of some help.”

Well, well… To know more, you will have to wait for episode 3!

About Kleiner Perkins first fund (episode 1)

As I mentioned in my previous post about returns of venture capital, I was lucky enough to see the performances of Kleiner Perkins first fund (launched in 1972). Here is the slide I discovered in mid-December.

I was extremely surprised to find such data. They are usually difficult, not to say impossible to get. I asked the author where he got them. He thought he had read them from a book by a Kleiner Perkins partner. I contacted him and he replied: “Not possible that it came from me. I don’t have such information. Not sure I have ever seen the returns for KPCB 1. I don’t know where the information could have come from.” Too bad.

I also try to “measure the bars” and rebuild what it could have meant in terms of numbers. Here are my measures.

A couple of comments (if we admit all this is true):
– Genentech and Tandem were two home runs (out of 17 deals).
– Even if these two had not worked, the fund value would be $17.8M, i.e. a 2.8x multiple. This would have been a decent return compared to even the best VC funds…

But is this true? You will have to wait for episode 2!