Benchmark Closes Sixth Fund

Silicon Valley venture firm Benchmark Capital has closed its sixth fund with around $500 million, peHUB has learned. That’s 20% more than what Benchmark raised for its fifth fund in 2004, and includes commitments from the firm’s partners and several portfolio company founders (past and present).

The capital increase is in line with general VC trends, but also reflects an expanded partnership. Benchmark’s fifth fund was the first not to feature Andy Rachleff and David Beirne as general partners (they transitioned into part-time “partner” roles). The firm has since bulked back up with the additions of general partners Peter Fenton (from Accel) and Mitch Lasky (Electronic Arts), plus a plethora of entrepreneurs-in-residence.

Benchmark Capital VI will focus on West Coast opportunities, but has broad geographic flexibility. This includes Europe, where Benchmark had an affiliate that last year spun out into an independent entity called Balderton Capital. Some European deals may be done solo, but also expect co-investments between the two firms.

Benchmark’s best-known hits are eBay, Handspring, Juniper Networks and Red Hat, while its active portfolio includes such companies as Linden Labs, Prosper, Gaia Interactive, Zillow and Zipcar.

Steve Spurlock, Benchmark’s operating partner, says that the final fund close occurred a couple of weeks ago, and that the entire process moved quickly. “We’ve been around for a while and have a good group of LPs, so it didn’t take too long.”