VCs Raise Dough for Presidential Election, MacNiven Bucks Trends –

Telemarketers may not be phoning during dinner as much anymore, but VCs still must screen their calls – if not, a presidential campaigner might just solicit them.

This is the first presidential election since new campaign financing restrictions went into effect, which ban soft money of unlimited contributions to political parties. The campaign finance law also raised the ceiling on individual contributions from $1,000 to $2,000. So it seems that VCs are being counted on to give money to their political parties in support of the 2004 candidates.

Among those who have given the maximum $2,000 donation to Pres. Bush’s re-election campaign are Floyd Kvamme, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and his KP cohort John Doerr.

To help VCs open up their wallets, Mark Gorenberg, a partner with Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, is serving as Sen. John Kerry’s campaign finance chief in California. Also Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture investor Gregory Slayton is pulling finance co-chairman duties for Bush.

The presidential finance chiefs also aren’t shy about spending their own money, too. Since the beginning of 2003, federal records show that Gorenberg has contributed over $21,000 to political causes, while Slayton has contributed around $40,000.

“Everyone thinks of Silicon Valley as completely Democratic, but we have raised a lot more than Kerry has,” Slayton told The New York Times.

Romney Appoints a Dem

Speaking of politics, whenever Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney needs to make a political appointment, he regularly returns to his private equity roots. The former Bain Capital chief has hired such folks as former I-Group/Hotbank New England founder Ellen Roy as Secretary of Environmental Affairs, and former General Catalyst entrepreneur-in-residence Alex Dunn as chief of staff. Subsequently, Dunn was tapped to spearhead an effort to get more Republicans elected to the Democrat-dominated state legislature.

The most recent private equity retread is Ralph Kimball, who recently headed up the PE group for Kissinger McLarty Associates. Romney named Kimball Secretary of Economic Development, despite Kimball’s longtime Democratic Party membership.

Morgenthaler Takes it Easy

At 84, you would expect David Morgenthaler to slow down a bit. After all, he’s earned a break. He founded Morgenthaler Ventures firm in 1968 – after a career as an operating exec – and he’s been investing in emerging companies ever since. He’s also been an ardent advocate for the venture industry, including serving as president of the National Venture Capital Association when the capital gains tax reduction was enacted in 1978.

On June 10, the IBF Conferences will honor Morgenthaler with its first annual lifetime achievement award.

Reached by phone, Morgenthaler pondered his next trip to the Caribbean, where he usually goes with friend and fellow venture capitalist Reid Dennis and their wives.

Morgenthaler also pondered slowing down some now that he’s in his 80s.

“Yeah, I’ve been working part-time recently – seven hours a day.”

Howard Stern Takes on VC?

Bawdy disk jockey Howard Stern has been speaking with investors and is considering raising private money to launch his own satellite radio network, according to a news report last month in The New York Post.

While his meeting with investors appears nothing more than a fun rumor, what is true is that the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” has been for some time threatening to leave broadcast radio for a satellite network after his employer, Infinity Broadcasting, was leveled with enormous fines due to some of Stern’s racy on-air content.

Venture Capital Journal tried to find out for certain if the New York broadcast veteran might be in conversations with some actual VC firms. Stern’s agent Don Buchwald, however, told us that the Post article was inaccurate and otherwise refused to comment on what conversations, if any, Stern is having with investors.

It’s actually comforting to know Stern doesn’t want to publicly associate with venture capitalists. The infamous DJ who years ago released a compilation of broadcast comedy titled Crucified by the FCC, has a reputation to protect.

We only hope now that we called him, he doesn’t give our phone number to long-time phone prankster Captain Janx.

VC Pal Stalked Zsa Zsa

He’s conquered pumpkin pancakes and hobnobbed with some of Silicon Valley’s most notorious dealmakers. Now, Jamis MacNiven, proprietor of the famed Buck’s restaurant in Woodside, Calif., wants space on your bookshelf, too. MacNiven in late April unveiled his first tell-all book – Breakfast at Bucks: Tales From the Pancake Guy.

MacNiven has never been shy about over-hyping. He dreamed up of the Sand Hill Challenge, an annual soapbox derby race on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, Calif., that is as much as about venture folk outspending and out-talking one another, as it is a charity event for the local community.

Of the book, the Pancake Guy had this to say: “It’s about love, sex, death, physics, the inappropriate use of dynamite, politics and exploring the world from the top of the Great Pyramid at Giza to the jungles of Vietnam.”

The 300-page book also details how he’s been in three train wrecks and stalked (on separate occasions) Zsa Zsa Gabor and Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin.