Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the Silicon Valley venture firm that was quick to expand internationally in 2000, continues to step on the gas. It is now raising new funds for (1) clean tech and (2) India.
After the bubble burst in 2000, we were sitting there wondering when DFJ would feel the pain of being over-extended. DFJ had launched multiple “affiliate funds,” targeted for investing various regions of the world, and hiring managers locally to invest. Surely this reflected a cocky confidence that would be punished severely by a fizzing VC market.
Well, DFJ did quite well, thank you very much. They hung in there, and now they are reaping the benefits. We haven’t looked closely at their internal rates of return yet. But the IPO of Chinese search engine Baidu, and the big sale of European Internet telephony company Skype to eBay, are two recent big hits that suggest DFJ is on a roll. DF had big investments in both.
Tim Draper, the partner whose name is first in the firm’s name, is the son of Bill Draper, who some have called the valley’s first venture…
capitalist. Back then, the “word venture capital” wasn’t used. Many of the valley’s first venture capitalists were transplants from the banking and other investment world of the establishment East Coast. (Update: Though Yuri, in comment, notes that Draper and Pitch Johnson were both steelworkers before they established Draper Johnson Investment Co. in 1962. Draper was a steel salesman, Johnson a plant foreman. They were marketing and operations guys but not financiers…)
And thus the story of venture capital continues its journey, as Tim (pictured left) carries the torch and expands beyond the valley.
Now, there is more info about a clean-technology affiliate fund they are raising, called DFJ Element (formerly called DFJ Alta Terra), which we first reported about back in June (scroll down). It has a target of $150 million and an investment team culled from Advent International, EnerTech Capital, and Broadview Investments, according to a piece by Private Equity Week.
We actually have a pre-arranged interview scheduled today with Raj Atluru, who is heading the fund. He apparently can’t say much about it because of SEC regulations, but we’ll report back anything we can.
Good news is that it is being run out Silicon Valley and Philadelphia. That makes sense since Philadelphia is closer to the center the U.S.’s incumbent energy economy (oil and coal). Silicon Valley, meanwhile, is slowly but surely becoming a cluster, or hub for ways to apply what we’ve learned about high tech and the Internet to this older economy. It is also noteworthy that the state is helping in the effort. So far, the California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) has committed $8.5 million to DFJ’s new fund.
Meanwhile, DFJ is raising a $200 million fund to invest in early-stage technology companies in India, reports Asian Private Equity News. To help scout deals, DFJ is sponsoring a business plan competition with Silicon Valley’s south Asian entrepreneur group, TiE. Info is here. Finals will be held at the India School of Business in Hyderabad.