Darwin drafts off of KP

Frank Caufield Jr., son of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers co-founder Frank Caufield Sr., is raising $100 million for the second venture capital fund of funds of his 6-year-old firm, Darwin Ventures.

Managing Partner Peter Freudenthal confirmed that $100 million was “in the ballpark” of Darwin’s target, and that the firm has already raised nearly $60 million, the amount that Darwin had initially set when it began fund-raising last year.

Freudenthal said he wasn’t at liberty to disclose details about the fund, citing regulatory restrictions. But he acknowledged that the firm is actively investing its second fund. Freudenthal declined to name the venture firms that Darwin has made commitments to, saying only that they are “early stage tech, health care and hybrid funds.”

In regard to Darwin’s limited partners, Freudenthal says that they are “all endowments and foundations, and a couple of key, star individuals.”

San Francisco-based Darwin raised $42 million for its initial VC fund of funds in 2004. That fund made commitments to funds raised by such brand name firms as Kleiner Perkins, Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Sierra Ventures and U.S. Venture Partners. It also invested in Highway 12 Ventures of Boise, Idaho, and Inventus Capital Partners, an India-focused fund being raised by angel investor Kanwal Rekhi.

Freudenthal’s first venture capital gig was as CEO and co-founder of meVC, a closed-end public venture capital fund meant to democratize the process of investing in startups. Prior to meVC, he was a biotech analyst at the investment banks Robertson Stephens in San Francisco and Brean Murray & Co. in New York.

Caufield Jr. founded Cerisent Corp., an XML content server startup, and worked for Xerox Venture Lab “where he was in charge of creating value out of Xerox PARC technologies,” according to Darwin’s website.

Darwin is the latest in a string of firms to benefit from having close ties to venture funds that some LPs have had trouble accessing directly.

For example, DAG Ventures predominately co-invests with Kleiner Perkins, Accel, Benchmark Capital, Khosla Ventures and Sequoia Capital, according to Thomson Reuters (publisher of VCJ). DAG is raising $600 million for its fourth fund, according to several sources familiar with the firm, which raised a $500 million fund last year.

Meanwhile, Chicago-based broker dealer Advanced Equities Financial is on track this year to invest $1 billion from accredited investors in startups that have for the most part already been backed by so-called top-tier firms. Advanced Equities Financial, founded in 1999, co-invested 10 times with New Enterprise Associates and seven times with Kleiner Perkins, according to Thomson Reuters.—Constance Loizos