Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kleiner Perkins Dialing Up Activity in Boston?

Last month, Michael Greeley of Flybridge Capital off-handedly mentioned that Kleiner Perkins had dialed up its presence in Boston, with two partners located here.

So I wanted to check if that was true.

When I asked KP's PR person if there was anyone based out here permanently, or an office that they'd set up in Boston, their reply via e-mail was, "KPCB’s official offices are in China and California. There is a plethora of innovation happening in the Boston area, and KPCB is involved in identifying new ideas and helping to build companies." They apologized for not being able to share more details.

Greeley mentioned that Tom Monath (formerly chief scientific officer at Acambis) is on the KP team, and based in Boston. KP wouldn't confirm that. But here's a two-year-old Mass High Tech article mentioning that they'd brought Monath on board, and were opening an office. But Monath seems to live in Harvard, Mass., and I couldn't find a listing for KP in the Boston area, though he is still listed on KP's Web site as a partner in the firm's "pandemic and biodefense fund." (He didn't respond to my e-mail last week.)

What Kleiner does have locally is a "strategic partnership" with GreatPoint Ventures in Cambridge. Kleiner doesn't have money in the GreatPoint fund, but they do get a first look at "interesting deals we bring them," according to Aaron Mandell of Great Point. That arrangement has been in place for "about six months," he said. They've invested together in GreatPoint Energy and Alta Rock Energy, a geothermal energy company. Mandell said GreatPoint is definitely not an affiliate or "branch office" of KP...

Among Kleiner's Massachusetts portfolio companies are CodonDevices, Bit9, Epizyme, Mascoma, Upromise (acquired by Sallie Mae), and Lilliputian Systems, which just yesterday announced plans to expand its manufacturing facility and add about 100 jobs.

Are you hearing about other KP activity in town? Post a comment if you would....

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Mascoma: Lone Massachusetts Company in First Quarter's Top Ten Venture Deals

The PriceWaterhouseCoopers/NVCA MoneyTree Report covering Q1 activity just came out.

Part of the news is that there was a worrisome drop in the amount of capital poured into New England companies during the first quarter.

But the other interesting tidbit comes from the list of the top ten money-raisers in the quarter: companies like Slide (developer of Facebook apps), Asthmatx (medical devices for asthma sufferers), and Infinia Corp. (Stirling engines and generators), each of which raised $50 million.

Company #10 on the list is a mysterious Brighton, MA biotech company that raised $44.99 million from firms like Atlas Venture, General Catalyst, Kleiner Perkins, and Khosla Ventures. It's the only Massachusetts company to make the list.

Though the MoneyTree survey labels the company and its business as "undisclosed," all signs point to Mascoma Corp., a company turning cellulosic materials (plant-based schtuff like wood, straw, and switchgrass) into biofuels. (This was earlier reported as a $50 million combo of equity and debt, but there's no press release on Mascoma's site.)

Interestingly, the #1 money-raiser in the quarter was another cellulosic ethanol company, Colorado-based Range Fuels, which took in an eye-popping $130 million. Range and Mascoma have one investor in common: Vinod Khosla's Khosla Ventures.

(Both Range and Mascoma are classified by MoneyTree as "biotech" firms, but it seems to me they'd fit better in the "industrial/energy" category, though they do rely on living organisms and biotech processes to make their fuel.)

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