A big shake-up is going on at Kleiner Perkins, as old-guard venture firm fights to stay relevant

Key Points
  • Venture firm Kleiner Perkins just poached Mamoon Hamid from Social Capital, a 6-year-old venture fund he co-founded.
  • The move follows a spate of departures at Kleiner Perkins over the last week, which also led the firm to shut down its "Edge Program," a seed fund.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valley's old-guard venture capital firms, is moving fast to plug holes in its investment team. The firm, which was founded in 1972, just nabbed Mamoon Hamid as a general partner. Hamid co-founded Social Capital, and led investments there in Slack, OneLogin and other enterprise tech deals.

Hamid confirmed the move in a blog post today calling Kleiner Perkins' Chairman John Doerr a role model. Doerr is famous for not just his investing acumen, but running a firm where seniority rules.

New talent tends to move on from Kleiner, rather than rise in the ranks.

Earlier this week, four of Kleiner's newer investment partners departed all around the same time, and the firm shut down its "Edge Program" seed fund, Bloomberg reported. That program, and the partners managing it, were supposed to help keep Kleiner relevant and appealing to a new generation of start-ups.

Kleiner's name used to show up in plenty of early-stage venture capital deals, and gained fame for being an early backer of Netscape, Google, and Amazon. But the firm has shifted lately to investing in later-stage rounds for hypergrowth tech start-ups -- according to Crunchbase data, this year more than half of its investments have been in later-stage start-ups.

In later stages, shares in successful start-ups tend to cost more, and outsized returns on those investments are much harder to realize.

Mature firms like Kleiner are facing an onslaught of competition for early-stage deals. Rising "microfunds" are writing checks for seed and Series A deals without bigger, institutional VC's leading the way.

Last year, industry tracker Prequin found 470 first-time funds looking to raise and invest in start-ups. These microfunds were looking to raise, on average, around $106 million for seed and early-stage follow-on deals.

Social Capital was counted as a microfund just six years ago.

Kleiner bringing on the co-founder of one of these growing, next-generation funds may signal that the firm is ready to incorporate not only new talent, but new ideas.