Greylock had raised $575 million for its prior fund in 2009, before up-sizing it to $1 billion two years later. At the time, Greylock said the extra money was largely earmarked for large growth equity opportunities, such as the firm’s participation in a massive pre-IPO round for Groupon (GRPN). In the end, however, 120 of the fund’s 140 or so investments were seed-stage of Series A deals (another 10 were Series B).
“We just didn’t find the opportunities in growth that we expected,” explains Greylock partner David Sze, whose deals have included Facebook (FB) and Path. “But of course we often find companies at the seed-stage or Series A that eventually will require one of those large rounds, and we have the ability to participate.”
Greylock has largely had the same group of limited partners for the past 50 years — including many university endowments — and did not accept any new investors this time around.The entire fundraising process took only a few weeks from beginning to end.
But even though the fund size and investors are the same, there is one big difference this time around: Greylock XIV will be the firm’s first fund whose entire general partnership is based in Silicon Valley.
Greylock was originally founded in Massachusetts, expanding to Silicon Valley in 1999 with the hire of Aneel Bhusri (who would later go on to co-found Workday). Over time, the firm began to focus more and more on West Coast opportunities, particularly with subsequent hires of folks like Sze and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn’s co-founder and current chairman). Longtime East Coast partners Bill Helman and Bill Kaiser both will have the opportunity to make new investments going forward, but neither will have a hand in active fund management. Same goes for long-retired partner Henry McCance, although he is known to still advise the remaining team.
There has long been a rumor in Boston that the firm’s power shift can be traced back to its 2006 investment in Facebook, at a then-stunning $500 million valuation. Sze and his West Coast partners were said to have supported the deal over East Coast objections, and Facebook’s subsequent success also determined Greylock’s future.
Sze, however, disputes that tale. “Two of the biggest advocates for the Facebook deal were Henry and BIll Helman,” he says. “In fact, Bill wanted to put even more into the deal than we ultimately invested… The real moment of change was when Aneel was hired, both because of where he was an because he was the first partner with a senior operating executive background. You’ll notice that all of the current partnership has a similar sort of background.”
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