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Kleiner Perkins, John Doerr falling behind after betting big on cleantech - San Jose Mercury News

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This article from Sarah McBride and Nichola Groom of Reuters was published in January 2013.

In it, they wonder why Kleiner Perkins has not invested much in Internet:

While Kleiner focused on cleantech, which has accounted for more than a quarter of all its investment dollars since 2007, its competitors were lavishing money and attention on the consumer Internet. Accel Partners bet on social networking site Facebook in 2005 when it was worth about $100 million. Firms like Charles River Ventures and Spark Capital first jumped into microblogging service Twitter in 2007, when it was worth around $25 million.

When Kleiner tried belatedly to catch the social media wave, prices had exploded. In early 2011, Kleiner invested in Twitter at a $3.7 billion valuation, Facebook at a $52 billion valuation, and Groupon at a $5 billion valuation, according to published reports of valuations from the time.

Kleiner said it did not agree with the reported valuations. Based on its cost, the firm said, its investment in Facebook is up 39 percent; Twitter, up 111 percent; and Groupon down 38 percent. (VCs generally aim to earn at least three times their investment.)

Meanwhile, Kleiner's other earlier-stage consumer Internet investments, including the social network Path and reputation-measurement service Klout, have yet to make a splash. One that did, social games developer Zynga, was less of a victory than it might have been because Kleiner held on to all its shares post-IPO, only to see the stock plunge from an initial offering price of $12 to trade below $3, where it is trading these days.

Kleiner faces other questions, too, including who might replace Doerr as de facto leader of the firm should he retire. Doerr said in the email that the firm has developed many leaders, including technology-focused partners Ted Schlein and Randy Komisar, and healthcare partner Beth Seidenberg.

And it's wrestling with the bad publicity -- and possible financial liability -- from a much-discussed sexual harassment and retaliation suit filed by Ellen Pao, a former partner. Kleiner has said the allegations are without merit.

The firm has made a concerted effort over the past several years to burnish its credentials as an Internet VC, hiring Mary Meeker, the highly regarded former Internet analyst at Morgan Stanley, along with up-and-coming stars such as Twitter's former engineering vice president Mike Abbott and Square's former products director Megan Quinn.

I think of Kleiner Perkins as the main investor in Netscape, Amazon, and Google.

But maybe that's because I'm Old School.

Anyway, I think this article was premature because Silver Spring Networks went public yesterday, and it looks like a big win to me.

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