MENLO PARK, Calif. – Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers hired John Denniston, former head of technology investment banking at Salomon Smith Barney, as the firm’s first ever chief operating officer, said Kevin Compton, a general partner with the firm.
Kleiner Perkins felt the time was right to hire a chief operating officer because of the retirement of Mike Curry, the firm’s chief financial officer for nearly 18 years, Compton said. Curry, who in addition to being chief financial officer shared a chief operating officer’s responsibilities with Compton, retired at the end of February. “I was doing a lot of the COO stuff, and I was doing a horrible job,” Compton said, adding “the firm has grown, so we needed a true COO.”
The firm picked Denniston based largely on his decade-long relationship with Kleiner Perkins, Compton said. “As an investment banker and a lawyer, John has done a lot of work for us, and we know that he could do a great job as COO,” he explained. Compton estimated Denniston worked on at least 12 Kleiner investments as an attorney with Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP, in addition to helping to raise money for some of the firm’s portfolio companies during his time at Salomon Smith Barney.
Denniston said his decision to join Kleiner was based on his prior experiences with the firm. “I have worked for many years with Kleiner Perkins, so in many ways this did not seem like a job change,” he said, noting “Kleiner is at the top of the venture capital world, doing great things and I thought it would be a lot of fun to join them.”
Prior to joining Kleiner, Denniston spent a year and a half at Salomon Smith Barney where he managed the firm’s technology investment banking group in Palo Alto, Calif. His responsibilities included working with the firm’s bankers on business generation, as well as overseeing the execution of transactions in public equity, private equity and mergers and acquisitions. He was also on the investment committee of the firm’s direct investment vehicle and VC fund-of-funds. Before his time as an investment banker, Denniston spent 16 years at Brobeck, where he headed the firm’s VC practice group, as well as being co-head of its information technology practice group.
In his new role as chief operating officer, Denniston said he will draw on his past experiences to be an internal investment banking and legal expert for Kleiner’s portfolio companies. “I will help companies with their investment banking relationships, as well as helping with the structure and execution of transactions,” he said. However, he will not sit on any portfolio companies’ boards of directors. Internally, Denniston will also watch over the firm’s day-to-day operations, like its dialogue with limited partners, in addition to leading internal initiatives and special projects. Denniston declined to identify any of the firm’s internal initiatives.
Founded in 1972, the firm keeps all information about its capital under management private. Kleiner appointed Sue Bieglieri to become the firm’s new chief financial officer, Denniston added. Bieglieri had previously been the firm’s controller, he noted.