Kleiner Perkins has undergone some minor changes in its general partnership. GP Vinod Khosla, one of the firm’s top moneymakers, is going part time, while Tom Jermoluk’s all-to-brief tenure with the firm has officially ended, according to a source close to KP. The moves came as KP held a first close on a new $400 million fund, its first since 2000.
Bloomberg News reported on Feb. 13 that KP closed on the fund, that Khosla went part time and that Jermoluk was gone.
KP didn’t returtn calls for comment.
Bloomberg said that Khosla made the change to “pursue philanthropic and enrepreneurial interests in his native India.”
A source close to the firm says he wouldn’t read too much into Khosla going part time. For one, “One hour a week of Vinod Khosla is worth a full week of work for a typical VC,” he says. For another, Khosla went part-time before and ended up funding Juniper Networks and Cerent, two huge hits for KP, he adds.
Khosla may in fact have plans for non-VC related activities in the short term, but if he comes upon an exciting startup he’ll be right back in the game, because that’s where his passion lies, the source says.
Khosla was scheduled to trek to India on Feb. 20 to meet entrepreneurs and help relaunch the Hyderabad chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs. He recently donated $5 million to his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi. And back in 2000, Khosla was part of a group that proposed raising $1 billion to create a “global institute of science and technology” in India that would partner with U.S. universities. It’s unclear what happened with the proposed initiative.
Khosla, 49, ranked second on Forbes’ “Midas List” this year, down from the No. 1 spot a year earlier, but still two notches above KP’s best-known GP, John Doerr. A co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Khosla hit home runs with telecom equipment companies Cerent, Corvis, Extreme Networks, Juniper and Siara Systems.
Khosla’s India plans – and how they will impact KP – will almost certainly be a concern for the firm’s LPs.
No More TJ
KP’s limiteds are much less likely to fuss over departure of Tom Jermoluk, aka “TJ.” He left the firm last year to work with longtime friend and KP investor Jim Clark on a Florida real estate venture, according to the Bloomberg. KP made a big deal when Jermoluk, former chairman and CEO of Excite@Home, joined the firm. “This is AWESOME,” Doerr declared in a rare KP press release on May 10, 2000. “The KP team is thrilled that Tom is joining us. TJ will be invaluable to KP ventures.”
Despite the hype, Jermoluk’s stay with the firm was unremarkable. He was an investor and board member in a few deals that left dents in the firm’s sterling reputation. His biggest flameout was Excite@Home, which was essentially swallowed by AT&T after it filed for bankruptcy protection.
Jermoluk and KP also backed Kibu, the self-described “digital hangout for teen girls” that took in $22 million in VC before it shut down, as well as MyCFO, which raised about $90 million in VC before being sold to BMO Financial for $30 million.
Thiel Feels Need for Speed
Four years ago, Peter Thiel found himself in the back seat of a McLaren F1 supercar driven by X.com CEO Elon Musk. They were on their way to Sequoia Capital for a meeting when the car spun off the road. It had to get towed, but both entrepreneurs were OK.
The accident did nothing to diminish Thiel’s passion for fast cars. Thiel, the co-founder and former chairman and CEO of PayPal Inc. – which he sold for $1.5 billion in stock in 2002 – is fueling a startup magazine, American Thunder, which aims to be the journal for diehard NASCAR fans.
Thiel, through his hedge fund firm, Clarium Capital Management in San Francisco, has financed the magazine, which has a starting circulation of 100,000. “I always thought it be cool to own a major magazine one day,” Thiel says.
First Brother Hits VC Trail
President Bush doesn’t want a single child left behind, and neither does his little bro Neil Bush, the chief executive of Ignite! The Austin, Texas-based software company is developing materials for middle schoolers with dyslexia. Neil Bush – who faced his own challenges as a student with dyslexia – hopes to raise a $20 million Series C round for Ignite!
So far, the Bush family has ponied up some cash, as have individual investors from as far away as Kuwait and Japan. Before Neil Bush was building a company that assisted dyslexics, the First Brother had quite a colorful business history. While giving a deposition in divorce court last year, Bush admitted accepting $2 million in stock options as a consultant to a Chinese semiconductor company backed by the son of the former Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, even though Bush knows nothing about semiconductors.
In the 1980s Bush was caught up in the S&L crisis, paying a $50,000 fine after driving Dallas’ Silverado Savings & Loan into the ground.