Maples sprouts second fund

Early stage investing maverick Mike Maples Jr. has raised $33 million for Maples Investments’ second fund and signed on several high-profile limited partners, according to a regulatory filing.

Limited partners in the new fund, called Maples Investments II, include Horsley Bridge, the University of Chicago and Weathergage Venture Capital.

Maples declined to discuss the new fund. His first fund, a $15 million vehicle raised in 2006, has backed several high profile new media companies, often at the earliest stages of investment. The investor’s best-known deal may be his investment in social news site Digg. Other investments include content student marketplace Chegg, website builder Weebly and Internet advertising and marketing services provider YuMe.

Limited partners in Maples’ first fund include Austin Ventures and nine individual investors, according to regulatory filings. Maples used to live in Austin, Texas, and knew each of the investors in his first fund for more than a decade, he told VCJ last fall.

Maples, who now lives in Atherton, Calif., worked at both Foundation Capital and August Capital before starting his own firm. Prior to becoming a VC, he co-founded Motive Inc., a broadband software developer, in 1997.

Maples is the son of Mike Maples Sr., who served in the Office of the President at Microsoft and was Executive Vice President of the Worldwide Products Group at the was the software giant until he retired in 1995.

The younger Maples’ firm is one of four single-general partner firms launched in the past two years (see “Single and loving it,” October 2007 VCJ). Others include KPG Ventures, a $15 million fund founded by former VSP investor Vince Vannelli, Tugboat Ventures, which is run by Dave Whorton, a former GP for Texas Pacific Group Ventures, and SoftTech VC, which is run by Jeff Clavier, former president of RVC Capital.

In addition, Jo Tango, formerly a GP at Highland Capital Partners, is reportedly raising a single-GP fund called Kepha Partners.

One of the advantages to being the only VC at a firm is not having to meet before making a decision on an investment. Maples says that he learned this first hand last year when he sat in on a Y Combinator entrepreneur camp and watched the startups present. Afterward, he sat down with several angel investors also in attendance.

“A bunch of us got together and decided Weebly was our favorite, so we said, ‘Let’s get them a term sheet this weekend,’” he previously told VCJ. The startup, which helps users make Web pages, raised $650,000 from Maples and angel investors Ron Conway, Steve Anderson, Paul Buchheit and Aydin Senkut.

“People later called to see if we wanted to partner on a Weebly deal, but it was already done,” Maples says. —Alexander Haislip