For a firm that says it hates publicity, Kleiner Perkins just won’t stop making news. This time it’s for bringing former Secretary of State Colin Powell aboard as a “strategic limited partner.” The news generated no fewer than 58 press reports-from the New York Times to the New Zealand Herald, according to a Factiva search two days after the announcement.
We wonder if the news merited all that ink. The general, 68, isn’t going to be a general partner in the fund, so he won’t be responsible for making deals or attending Monday partners’ meetings.
KP says Powell will give the firm a “global perspective” and help coach its portfolio companies.
GP John Doerr, who introduced Powell to the firm, told the NYT: “This man, I think more than any other, has deep insights and offers strategic advice into leadership, and building and developing teams, and winning even when you’re up against formidable opponents or challenges.”
It’s probably just a matter of time before Powell’s successor, Condoleezza Rice, turns up at a competing venture firm. After all, she has strong ties to Stanford University.
Speaking of Doerr, he received some unwelcome publicity in July from a blog written by Bill Burnham of Celsius Capital. Burnham was curious about how much money Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital made from Google’s IPO. He started crunching the numbers in Google’s SEC filings and came to the startling conclusion that Doerr could have received 40% of the firm’s total carry. He wrote about his findings in his blog (www.billburnham.blogs.com), touching off a discussion on other blogs and a story in our sister publication, Private Equity Week. Then he came to learn that Doerr was both a GP and an LP in the KP fund that invested in Google, so the 40% deduction couldn’t be right.
Burnham wrote in his blog: “I recently talked with some folks who definitely know many of the actual numbers involved and they pointed out to me what in hindsight is a rather embarrassingly obvious fact: that the distributions received by individual partners include both carried interest as well as the proceeds from any personal investments made by the partners themselves into their fund, something which I had, quite stupidly, not figured into my deductions.”
Tour de VC
Deepak Kamra of Canaan Partners may not ever wear the yellow jersey of the Tour de France, but that’s no matter. Kamra has cycled along the route of the Tour de France in the past with members of his “ad-hoc bike club,” usually riding each day’s route in the morning preceding the race.
Kamra sat out the famous bike race this year. “We felt we needed to do something different since the Tour de France is such a crowded event these days,” he says.
This past spring, Kamra instead followed the Giro d’Italia, Italy’s version of the Tour de France. Much of this route saw Kamra and 16 of his friends pedaling the Italian Alps. Among the other VCs on the trip were David Helfrich of Garnett Helfrich, John Micek of Silicon Prairie Partners, Scott Russell of Diamondhead Ventures and Bob Williams of Bay Partners.
Russell described the trip as “EPIC” in an email to VCJ and said the group plans to ride in the Veulta di Spain next year.
Charting a New Course
Ravi Chiruvolu, who used to pen a column called “TechTalk” for VCJ, has left Charter Venture Capital. The 36-year-old was a GP at the early stage venture firm, where he focused on enterprise software, e-business and wireless. He says the split was “completely amicable.”
Chiruvolu says he plans to invest in PIPE deals. “There’s a universe of between 100 to 200 companies out there that went public too early, were beaten down subsequently and are on the verge of getting de-listed,” he says. “Nine out of 10 deserve to be down, but one is a diamond in the rough.”
He’s already found one overlooked diamond. He invested his own money in publicly traded Niku, which sells IT management and governance software. Computer Associates agreed to buy Niku for $350 million in cash in June.