Like Father Like Son? Darwin Ventures Raising $100M


VentureBeat yesterday reported on John Doerr’s daughter Mary, who is trying to raise awareness about global warming through her own newly launched non-profit. Meanwhile, another Kleiner Perkins’ offspring has bigger, less altruistic ambitions. Frank Caufield Jr., son of KPCB cofounder Frank Caufield Sr., is raising $100 million for the second venture capital fund-of-funds of his six-year-old firm, Darwin Ventures.

The San Francisco-based firm closed its initial VC fund-of-funds in 2004 with $42 million, money it committed to Accel Partners, KPCB, Lightspeed Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Sierra Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners, and Highway 12 Ventures in Boise, Idaho, among others.

I called up the firm earlier today and spoke with Caufield’s partner, Peter Freudenthal, to learn more about Darwin’s second fund. Freudenthal couldn’t say much, owing to SEC regulations, but he confirmed that the firm has already raised nearly $60 million, which was its original target. He also confirmed that Darwin has been actively investing its second fund but declined to name the firms that have so far received commitments, saying only that they are “early-stage tech, healthcare, and hybrid funds.” As for Darwin’s LPs, Freudenthal said they were “all endowments and foundations, and a couple of key, star individuals.” (I’ll bet.)

Freudenthal’s first venture capital gig was as CEO and cofounder of meVC, a closed-end public venture capital fund meant to democratize the process of investing in startups. Prior to meVC, he was a biotech analyst at Robbie Stephens in San Francisco, and at Brean Murray & Co., a New York investment bank.

Meanwhile, according to Darwin’s website, Caufield, Jr., founded (then soon left) Cerisent Corp., an XML content server startup that has gone on to raise $39 million in venture funding under the name of Mark Logic Corp.; he also worked for Xerox Venture Lab.