Bill Joy sells $40 million condo to Hugh Jackman at half off

Owen Thomas · 11/14/08 03:20PM

Dreamily inventive billionaire Bill Joy, the cofounder of Sun Microsystems, has predicted doom for the human race in the pages of Wired. He has a new reason for pessimism: A Manhattan condo he put on the market for $40 million has reportedly sold to Australian actor Hugh Jackman for $21 million — down from a previously rumored sale price of $25 million. The five-bedroom, three-floor condominium has a view of the Hudson River. We have a theory on why Joy sold, even at such a discounted price.It's not like he needs the cash. But we don't think Joy, who joined Kleiner Perkins three years ago, as a partner in the once-storied venture-capital firm which funded Amazon.com and Google, among others, has much time to enjoy the place. Kleiner, like much of the venture-capital business, is struggling, especially with its bets on cleantech which have been battered by both the credit crunch and falling oil prices which make alternative energy sources less profitable. Better to unload it at any price — and invest in real estate closer to the office. As for Jackman, we figure the X-Men star simply knows a bargain when he sees one.

John Doerr to startup CEOs: Be more like Scoble

Owen Thomas · 10/30/08 02:40PM

Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist John Doerr is the guy everyone vaguely remembers as being important a decade ago but can't recall anything he's funded recently besides Friendster. Even so, he's full of advice for entrepreneurs — so full of advice that his 10 tips for startups spilled over to 11. The 11th tip: "Overcommunicate with everyone -– employees, investors, partners and particularly customers. Don’t sugar coat things, communicate your resolve." Where have we heard that before?It just confirms the notion that Doerr hasn't been paying attention. Anyone who's been reading Robert Scoble's blog knows about the virtues of oversharing. It makes for great entertainment. But if there's any correlation between checking FriendFeed every 15 seconds and business success, it's lost to us. Next time, John, just mention your daughter and cry a lot. It worked wonders at TED last year.

Legendary VC Tom Perkins putting $20.5 million house on the market

Owen Thomas · 10/29/08 02:20PM

7,535 sq. ft. 7 bd/6.5 ba. 3-car gar. Wet bar. Wine cellar. MUST SELL NOW. Okay, that last bit isn't part of the listing for Tom Perkins's palatial home in Belvedere, across the Golden Gate from San Francisco. But the fact that Perkins wants to sell his house, in this real-estate market, is disturbing. He is one of the founders of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and is fabulously wealthy. He has already started hawking his $187 million megayacht, the Maltese Falcon. What this looks like: Perkins is liquidating his worldly possessions. Let's assume he's not doing this because of financial straits. The only alternative conclusion: Perkins thinks he should sell now, before things get much, much worse.

Why Kleiner Perkins thinks green is the new black

Paul Boutin · 10/06/08 07:00PM

The company that funded Netscape, Google and Genentech is now focusing on electric cars, solar power and biofuels. New York Times contributor Jon Gertner has been meeting with Kleiner partners since last year. His 8,000-word feature in Sunday's paper goes deep on details of a few KPCB investments such as Ausra. But it spends a lot of time framing the story for non-techies outside the Valley. Here's the Sand Hill Road edit:

Eric Schmidt and wife Wendy seen in Valleywag Green #61b335

Jackson West · 09/30/08 06:00PM

Last week's opening gala for the new Renzo Piano-designed California Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park was graced by Google CEO Eric Schmidt actually with wife Wendy Schmidt and Shawn Byers with Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers VC hubby Brook Byers. The Byers even had accessories crafted from the San Francisco Chronicle's funny pages. Care to craft a better headline? Leave it in the comments and we'll judge the entries harshly, promise. Yesterday "BoothRank == 0" from Athletic Supporter v0.42beta evaluated to true. (Photo by Catherine Bigelow/7x7)

Al Gore's Twitter account still a secret

Jackson West · 09/29/08 09:00AM

So Al Gore, who cofounded Current TV, promised to have a Twitter account by Saturday. It's Monday, and the algore and albertgore account don't look anything like they're being maintained by the former American vice president and current free marketeer. If you find him under shouldawon00 or some other catchy handle, do let us know. I couldn't find anything from his wife Tipper, either — tipper is a Twitter bot for calculating tips, and tippergore doesn't exist. And it's for shame. Because how fun would it be if they really embraced the medium, instead of just showing up to press the flesh at staged events? Below, pure speculation as to what we all have to look forward to.

iPhone app fund rejects 99.8 percent of applicants

Paul Boutin · 09/15/08 03:40PM

"In 6 months, we’ve received over 2,700 plans. That’s about 20x what we received in a similar period last year. Out of that group, we’ve funded five companies." Honestly, I have no idea why Kleiner Perkins partner Matt Murphy has decided to blog about the firm's iFund venture with Apple. KPCB is notorious for doing all its deals through insider connections, not by trolling for ideas on the Internet. (Apple board member Al Gore is also a partner at Kleiner Perkins, so it's not like the firm needs an in.) Murphy concludes, "Stay tuned for a future conversation on mobile monetization and navigating the tradeoffs of free versus paid applications." How about a conversation on navigating Apple's imperious rule of its App Store?

Ray Lane badmouths Kleiner investment

Owen Thomas · 08/21/08 03:20PM

Clubby VC partnerships usually invest by consensus. So did Kleiner Perkins's Ray Lane, the former president of Oracle who joined the firm eight years ago, abstain from the company's decision to invest in Digital Chocolate in 2006? I ask only because when the Wall Street Journal chatted Lane up about the software business, he cited cell-phone games, in particular, as code that ought never have been compiled. “You can argue that a lot of these applications should never have existed,” Lane said of "some cell-phone games," according to the Journal

Storage startup burns through $45 million in 6 months, shuts down

Nicholas Carlson · 08/20/08 11:00AM

Sunnyvale-based storage startup Agami called an all hands at 11 AM, Monday, August 4. "I thought we were getting bought out,'' one sales rep told the Mercury News. Instead, CEO David Stiles told his employees that the company was shutting down and that everyone had to clear out by 1 PM. "Basically we all felt betrayed,'' another employee told the Mercury News. They had reason to be surprised. Agami only closed its third round of funding in February, after raising $45 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins.Employees — now without health insurance or expenses repaid — got an email address for pay requests, but so far employees say correspondence has been all one-sided. Asked why the company so suddenly folded, founder Kumar Sreekanti said: "Agami's board has decided to shut the company down as the efforts to raise further capital didn't materialize in time." Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of NetApp, doesn't buy the excuse — "You don't raise $45 million and then get shut down. That doesn't make sense," — and neither do we. Sreekanti has worked as the CEO of a Kleiner Perkins-backed startup before, so our guess is Sreekanti is keeping quiet trying to be a "team player" for the boys on Sand Hill road in order to stay on their roster of cooperative executives ready to work on — and sometimes unceremoniously shut down — future ventures.

John Doerr's daughter is greener than thou

Nicholas Carlson · 08/19/08 12:00PM

Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr, ever the indulgent father, has stopped showering tears on his 17-year-old daughter Mary, and switched to cash instead. Mary Doerr's nonprofit, Inconvienient Youth, is a Ning-based social network that's supposed to make Al Gore's global warming presentation more "teen-friendly," according to VentureBeat.We're all for not turning our atmosphere into an oven, but adolescent admonishments will swiftly grow even more wearisome than Gore's original. Children are now encouraged to scold their parents for crimes against the climate — such as using your dryer on a warm August day — with "Climate Crime Cards." Annoying, yes. But easily remedied. Just remind the offspring that bringing them into life increased the family's carbon-dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 round-trip flights between London and New York. Inconvenient youth, indeed.

Kleiner Perkins plunges into Web 2.0 far too late with Zynga's $29 million round

Nicholas Carlson · 07/23/08 11:20AM

Today at Facebook's developer's conference, social games widgetmaker Zynga will announce a $29 million round of funding — the company's second — led by Kleiner Perkins, the VC firm that backed Amazon.com and Google. Zynga has also acquired virtual world app YoVille and added former Electronic Arts creative exec Bing Gordon to its board. The company makes games like Poker and Attack, a Risk clone, for Facebook and other social networks. Zynga founder Mark Pincus told the Wall Street Journal that Zynga has 18 million monthly visitors and adds another 450,000 users a day. Kleiner Perkins partner John Doeer said his firm went ahead with the Zynga deal because of that kind of growth, telling the Journal Zynga has "cracked the code" on how to develop games that go viral fast. But really, how Zynga adds new users isn't all that complicated, clever or sustainable.

No, Kleiner Perkins won't give your Web 2.0 startup money

Jackson West · 07/18/08 01:20PM

In the latest issue of Fortune, a feature about venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins pointed out that the company has yet to make any investments in Web 2.0. The firm which was an early investor in Google has not been so bullish on the likes of Facebook. (The investment in Friendster couldn't have helped.) Instead, it has continued to focus on biotech on the one hand and changed focus to cleantech on the other. Reporter Adam Lashinsky noted that KP didn't even send a representative to the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference this year, and relays the bad buzz from Carlsbad:

Britney Spears, Perez Hilton and Vinod Khosla walk into a courtroom

Jackson West · 06/18/08 06:40PM

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins was sued by prison inmate Jonathan Lee Riches, who wanted $43 million from Khosla because "Khosla’s fund invests in prison buildings," among other concerns. Riches has also sued former Giants slugger Barry Bonds and hundreds of other celebrities, inspiring Khosla to quip, "Well, there is at least one thing I have in common with Britney Spears and Perez Hilton now." [Private Equity Hub] (Photos by AP/John Raoux, Rolando Aviles, Jack Plunkett)

iPhone application startups to trigger tsunami of free booze at launch parties

Jackson West · 06/11/08 05:40PM

Outside the Gizmodo and ArsTechnica party last night, a rep was handing out postcards advertising her company's "analytics and advertising for iPhone apps." My first thought was, "Isn't Apple going to have first crack at that data, since they control the distribution of third-party applications?" My second: All the Facebook widgetmaker parties I've been avoiding will probably soon be replaced by parties for iPhone appmakers. Just look at Bart Decrem, fired former CEO of "social browser" Flock now jumping on the bandwagon with Tapulous, which has already developed dozens of apps for the shiny device.