Exclusive: Big changes coming to Kleiner Perkins

April 16, 2012, 6:32 PM UTC

Brook Byers and Ray Lane scale back their future involvement.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is changing its partnership structure, according to prospective limited partners in the venture firm’s next early-stage fund. Neither Brook Byers nor Ray Lane are listed as general partners on the fund documents, although both are still expected to be actively involved with the firm (including the ability to source and sponsor new investments).

Bill Joy, a co-founder and former chief scientist of Sun Microsystems, also is not listed as a general partner on the new fund.

The transitions appear to be part of a gradual succession plan at Kleiner Perkins, with younger/newer partners like Ted Schlein and Matt Murphy moving up the managerial totem pole. Some VC firms do these well, while others do them poorly. My bet is on the former with Kleiner Perkins, given that it’s already been through this once before.

The firm also is doing a bit of internal reorganization, with Digital-Enterprise becoming an industry practice group, alongside Digital-Consumer, Life Sciences and Green. Kleiner has done plenty of enterprise tech deals over the year, but had not codified the strategy via its own organizational structure.

Byers is the only “name” partner still with KPCB, having originally joined in 1977. He launched the firm’s life sciences practice seven years later, and was founding president and chairman of four biotech companies incubated in KP’s offices that went on to be valued at more than $8 billion (in aggregate) on the public markets. Current board seats include  CardioDX, Crescendo, Five Prime Therapeutics, Genomic Health Inc., Lifesquare, OptiMedica, Pacific Biosciences, Inc., Tethys, Veracyte and XDx Inc.

Lane joined in 2000, after having served as president and chief operating officer of Oracle. Most of his recent transactions have been in the cleantech space, including Fisker Automotive, GreatPoint Energy, Ausra and Luca Technologies. He also serves as executive chairman of HP.

Joy also has focused on cleantech investments since arriving at Kleiner in 2005. Portfolio companies include SunVolta and Solasta.

In other Kleiner Perkins news, partner Aileen Lee is launching a new seed fund that PandoDaily reports “will be affiliated with — but separate from — KP.”  Sources say that she is seeking between $40 million and $50 million.

[UPDATE: An earlier version of this story reported that Kleiner Perkins partner Ellen Pao is planning to leave the firm. This appears to have been in error, and we sincerely regret the mistake].

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