We were checking out a rumor that Microsoft was interested in buying Claria, the Redwood City adware/spyware company. We were incredulous that Microsoft would make such a controversial move, but we put in a few calls nevertheless. Magdalena Yesil, a partner at US Venture Partners, and board member at Claria, got back to us. She said she’d asked Claria CEO Jeff McFadden about it for us, and that he told her there is no substance to the rumor.
Ok, fine. But more interesting than the Microsoft rumor is the abandonment of this company by most of its VCs. We’ve reported here (and then later here) about one firm, Technology Crossover Ventures, which has distanced itself from the company, removing it from its Web site. But as we put in calls, firm after firm, it seemed, said they too had nothing to do with the company. Vladimir Jacimovic, now a partner at NEA, but formerly at Crosslink Capital, a firm that also invested in Claria, said Crosslink had washed its hands of it. Just as at TCV, the Crosslink partner who invested in Claria is long since gone from Crosslink, he said. “Do you have any idea how controversial that company is?” Jacimovic asked us, incredulous himself that we’d even ask that he was involved with Claria. We called up David Sze, of Greylock, another firm that invested. He used to be a board observer, he said, but “I haven’t been directly involved in the company for nine months, or a year.” Why is Claria on his Website? Because Greylock is still officially an investor, he said, and it would be disingenuous to take it down. (Besides, TCV got some flak for removing Claria from its Web site, though Sze didn’t mention this as a reason).
Which brings us back to US Venture Partner, the brave venture firm that apparently remains the sole local representative on the company’s board. Investor AB, the investment firm of the Wallenbergs, the Swedish family, is also represented, we’re told. But US Venture Partners has two partners on the board, Yesil and Phil Young, making them the heavy-duty backers. So the valley hasn’t given it a total cold shoulder.
–More comment here (scroll down). Last year, Claria withdrew its proposed $150 million IPO offering.
–Scott Cook (founder of Intuit, Inc) and Andy Bechtolsheim (founder of Sun Microsystems), two valley giants, were also early investors. What’s the betting they’re hiding from the company too?