I’d be remiss, after all I’ve written, if I didn’t note that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers announced, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, its investment in the Facebook application maker Zynga. Whether or not Kleiner has missed Web 2.0 has become a heavily blogged topic since my article on the firm started circulating, and I know the partners at Kleiner strongly disagree with the characterization that they’ve abdicated their Internet birthright.
While I was reporting, Kleiner shared two things with me that weren’t in my article. One was that they had invested in a Facebook app company they weren’t prepared to announce. I now assume this was Zynga. Second, Kleiner emphasized that it has invested in 25 consumer Internet companies to date, though many remain in “stealth” mode. Not having the list, I can’t evaluate the quality of or prospects for their portfolio. Another announcement that followed my story was Kleiner’s investment in Vivaty, a “virtual community” like Second Life.
The point in my article, however, wasn’t whether Kleiner cares about Web 2.0. It’s how much it cares, especially compared to its new love, alternative energy. As important as the Web 2.0 investments Kleiner will make have been the ones that it missed. Facebook, after all, looks like a bigger win than Zynga.
The admirably tight-lipped CEO of Zynga, Mark Pincus (who never breathed a word to me about Kleiner’s involvement), is a friend, and I certainly hope this investment does well. But let’s be clear. One B-round investment (that means Kleiner was not the first VC into Zynga) at a high valuation (if Zynga raised $29 million the pre-money value likely is in the $100-million range) in a Facebook application company in mid-2008 (three years after Facebook itself was funded) does not a Web 2.0 strategy make.