Kleiner Perkins Closes New Fund at $525 Million, Lower than Previous Reports

By Erin Griffith , written on May 17, 2012

From The News Desk

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has closed a new venture fund just over a year after closing its last one. The firm raised $525 million for early stage Internet deals, green tech and life sciences.

It's Kleiner Perkins' 15th fund, but its the second with a renewed focus on consumer Internet and enterprise startups. The firm narrowed its focus earlier this decade on cleantech, a move that hasn't really paid off for anyone yet. Kleiner's 14th fund brought it back to its Internet roots, investing in companies like Zynga (albeit late in the game), Flipboard, One Kings Lane and Path.

The firm states it will place a "further emphasis" on digital enterprise with this vehicle. Within its main fund, Kleiner Perkins has allocations for an "iFund" worth $200 million. The iFund is obviously for companies building iOS apps. It seems like a misnomer since most popular apps eventually build on Android, too, but I guess "Mobile Fund" isn't as catchy as iFund. Or maybe Kleiner Perkins just hates Android. There's also a separate $250 million "sFund" with its own set of LPs. The "s" stands for social.

The firm also has a $1 billion Digital Growth Fund, which operates more like a hedge fund than a venture fund, investing in late stage companies, including a big secondary market play for Facebook. That fund, led by former Wall Street analyst Mary Meeker, has invested in venture rounds of Twitter and Square.

Fund 15 was reported to have a target of $600 million, already a drop from the previous $650 million fund from 2010. The of incredible shrinking venture fund isn't an accident--the limited partners behind venture capital funds don't love it when firms raise increasingly large funds. It's seen as a way for the firms to rake in more fees (taken as a percentage of the total fund size), and conventional wisdom is bigger isn't better when it comes to returns on funds.

Kauffman Foundation's widely circulated white paper on the broken VC model pinpoints growing fund sizes as a reason for the crappy average returns of the venture asset class:

Accel, Greylock, NEA, Oak, and Sequoia have each raised $1b+ funds in the past few years, in some cases despite declining returns.
None of the $1 billion or larger funds Kauffman has invested in over the past 20 years has managed to double its money net of fees, according to the white paper.

For that reason, alongside the fact that LPs are looking to shrink the number of relationships they have with fund managers, fundraising for venture capital has, in general, been difficult. Still, Kleiner Perkins hasn't been shopping this fund to investors for long. Early reports of the fundraise trickled out in March, and its close at $525 million was oversubscribed.

Update: A prior version of this story indicated that Kleiner Perkins lowered its fundraising target from the reported but unconfirmed targets of $600 million and $650 million, when in fact, the firm's initial target way always $525 million, I'm told. The story has been updated to reflect that.