Kleiner Perkins reaches out to new investors: "Unheard of"

Kleiner Perkins, one of the valley’s biggest name venture capital firms, is raising a so-called “annex fund,” or reserve fund it can tap to support companies it has already backed to help ensure they get through the downturn.

Kleiner has also reopened fundraising for funds it initially finished raising last year: its $700 million thirteenth fund, and a $500 million Green Growth fund. Notably, Kleiner has opened the Green Growth fund to limited partners that have not previously invested with Kleiner Perkins. The story was first reported this morning by PEHub.

VentureBeat has confirmed that Kleiner has reached out to existing and even new investors to see if they would support investments in these funds.

That Kleiner is reaching out to new investors is almost unprecedented because Kleiner has historically never had to reach out to investors. The high demand for access to Kleiner’s funds have traditionally made it next to impossible for new investors to partake of the funds. “Even the creme de la creme is being affected by this,” one investor in Kleiner Perkins told me, requesting anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. “This is unheard of.”

The annex fund will be used to support companies Kleiner has backed in the funds it raised in 2004 and 2006 (its 11th and 12th funds respectively), a story first reported by PEHub today.

Kleiner’s outreach is coming in part because it relied so heavily on investors such as university endowments which, ironically, were once considered the most valuable because they were long term investors and unlikely to be shaken by short-term trends. Since late last year, however, university endowments from Harvard to Yale, Columbia, Duke, Dartmouth, Cornell, University of Virginia and even Stanford have had trouble meeting their commitments because of the capital calls problem we’ve reported previously. These endowments have traditionally recycled profits from their previous VC investments back into their new commitments to venture firms. However, with little to no profits arising from venture capital in recent years, the endowments have no cash on hand to reinvest in these venture firms. The cash squeeze is so bad that these endowments are even having trouble meeting their existing commitments, let alone new commitments to venture firms. General Motors, another company facing severe financial trouble, is another Kleiner investor.

To be sure, Kleiner will have no trouble raising funds, because it is still considered a top venture firm, and there are plenty of investors wanting to access it. Its existing base of investors is still diverse, including many investors who are not in financial trouble. Finally, it should be noted this situation stems from macroeconomic trends that are no fault of Kleiner’s. Its troubles are in quite a different league than those of say HRJ Capital, the investment firm that was caught making commitments to invest in other venture capital firms without even having the money on hand to do so (HRJ Capital was also an investor in Kleiner).

Kleiner has declined several VentureBeat requests for comment over the past couple of weeks on this topic.

Here are some known investors in previous Kleiner funds:

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Endowment Fund
BPE private Equity G.m.b.H.
California Institute of Technology Endowment
Cisco Systems, Inc. (NasdaqGS:CSCO)
Comcast Interactive Capital
Comcast Spectacor, LP
Commonfund Capital, Inc.
Duke Management Company
EdVenture Ventures
Ford Foundation, Endowment Fund
General Motors Asset Management
General Motors Investment Management Corporation
Georgia Tech Foundation Inc.
Georgia Tech Foundation Inc., Endowment Fund
Harvard Management Co., Inc.
Harvard University Endowment
Horsley Bridge Partners Inc.
HP Financial Services, Investment Arm
HRJ Capital
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)
INVESCO Private Capital
Itochu Technology Inc.’s Venture Investment Division
JPMorgan Asset Management (UK) Limited
Legacy Venture
Liberty Digital, Inc.
Los Angeles County Employees’ Retirement Association
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Endowment Arm
MIT Private Equity
Netscape Communications Corporation
Northgate Capital Group, L.L.C.
Pomona Capital
Regents of the University of Michigan, Endowment
Rochester Institute of Technology Endowment
Rockefeller University Endowment
Stanford Management Company
Sun Microsystems Inc. (NasdaqGS:JAVA)
The Hillman Company
The Notre Dame Endowment
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Endowment Fund
University of California Regents’ Endowment Fund
University of Michigan Endowment
Vanderbilt University Office of Investments
Yale University Investments
Comcast MO Group, Inc. (Prior)
Oracle Ventures (Prior)
St. Paul Venture Capital, Inc. (Prior)
University of California Regents’ Endowment Fund (Prior)