MENLO PARK, Calif. – In a somewhat unusual transition, Silicon Valley attorney Allen Morgan in early January joined Mayfield Fund as a venture partner focusing on the Internet, e-commerce and new media.
Mr. Morgan made the move after spending the past five or six years advising young companies and building a network in the VC and entrepreneurial communities. “At some point you find the things you enjoy the most and add the most value to aren’t as a lawyer,” he said. “[Being a] partner at a venture capital fund is a natural extension of what [I’ve been] doing as a partner at a law firm.”
Mr. Morgan had practiced in the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins since May 1997 and spent more than 15 years at Silicon Valley-based firms such as Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he helped develop the firm’s interactive new media group following Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ financing of Netscape Corp. in the mid-1990s. Mayfield, which worked with Mr. Morgan on a number of occasions, extended him a job offer based on his knowledge and contacts in the Internet industry.
“The area he practices in … is an area that is obviously a very important sector to us,” said Kevin Fong, a general partner at Mayfield, which focuses on early-stage high-technology, information technology and health-care technology investments.
Mr. Morgan looks forward to putting his Internet experience to work as a VC. “I may be one of the few people who think the Internet is underhyped,” he explained. “The way the Internet has changed our lives or the lives of our kids is dramatic.”
Mr. Fong expected Mr. Morgan, a lawyer with more than 350 venture capital financings under his belt, to quickly develop the investment skills required of a successful venture capitalist. “It’s no more unusual than investment banking analysts moving to the VC side,” he said, downplaying the significance of Mr. Morgan’s career crossover. “The skills to be a lawyer in the Valley only have something to do with being a great legal mind … you need a great business mind as well.”
Mr. Morgan concurred, adding that his legal training is well-suited for his new position. “Your training as a lawyer teaches you to think systematically about any situation,” he said.
The firm’s most recent vehicle, $250 million Mayfield IX, at press time was about half invested.