Redpoint Ventures raises $400M fund for investments in social, mobile, and more

Redpoint Ventures, a Menlo Park, Calif. venture firm whose investments cover everything from cloud application deployment (Heroku) to document-sharing (Scribd) to solar (Solyndra), has raised a $400 million fourth fund for early-stage investments.

Despite the broader economic climate, Redpoint partner Geoff Yang said he’s still excited about the startup landscape, in part because there are so many industries worth investing in. Ten years ago, everyone was investing in “the commercialization of Web 1.0,” he said. In contrast, with the new fund, Redpoint will continue funding companies in five distinct areas — the social web, mobile, Internet advertising, cloud computing, and cleantech.

In fact, Yang said Redpoint made as many investments in 2009 as it did in 2008, and plans to make just as many or more in 2010. (I asked for a list of 2009 investments, the firm wasn’t able to send it to me before publication time.) It also had a number of successful exits in the last six months, with the acquisitions of LifeSize, WiChorus, Networks in Motion, and Kazeon. Two other portfolio companies, Calix and Solyndra, have filed for an IPO.

Yang acknowledged that the firm’s strategy has shifted due to the economy, in that it casts takes a harder look at how successful a company might be, and adjusts its investment and the valuation accordingly. But that doesn’t mean every startup needs a definite business plan.

“It really depends on the space,” Yang said. “If it’s a mature industry, the threshold is that much higher. If [the investment] doesn’t cost that much and it’s a nascent space that’s still being defined, we can live with a lot of uncertainty.”