Benchmark rapidly closes sixth VC fund, grows team

Following closure of a $500 million fund that took ‘a few weeks’ to raise, the Silicon Valley venture firm has added four seasoned tech executives to its team.

Benchmark Capital has closed its sixth, early stage tech-focussed fund on $500 million (€342 million) after having marketed it for only “a few weeks”, according to a spokeswoman.

The Silicon Valley-headquartered venture capital firm officially closed the fund on 15 January and will likely devote the majority of its capital to investments in US-based companies, she said.

As with preceding vehicles, the most recent of which closed on $425 million in June 2004, Benchmark Capital Partners VI did not use a placement agent to raise capital, but has “essentially the same LP base” that Benchmark has had in the past few years, the spokeswoman said.

Investors in previous funds include the Duke University endowment, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the State University Retirement System of Illinois, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Rice University.

The firm has also hired four technology executives, three of whom are “entrepreneurs in residence” and one of whom is a “CEO in residence”.

Started in 1996, Benchmark’s “EIR” programme is meant to augment its operational resources as EIRs draw on their own sector expertise and help with Benchmark’s existing and potential portfolio companies.

“By bringing seasoned executives into the firm to found new businesses or work with our portfolio companies, everyone benefits,” Bob Kagle, Benchmark general partner, said in a statement. “They understand the challenges of running a start-up, and demonstrate by example what it takes to build, manage and lead fast-growth technology companies.”

The new EIRs are Rob Bearden, who has held senior executive positions at JBoss, Red Hat and OpenSpan; Lewis Cirne, the founder of Wily Technology; and Dan Finnigan, a senior vice president at Yahoo!, responsible for HotJobs.

Keith Krach, who was Benchmark’s first EIR in 1996 prior to co-founding Ariba, was appointed CEO in residence.