Mary Meeker, the 'Queen of the Internet,' is leaving Kleiner Perkins to start her own fund 

Mary Meeker presents her annual Internet Trends Report at Code 2018.
Asa Mathat | Vox Media
Mary Meeker presents her annual Internet Trends Report at Code 2018.

The "Queen of the Internet" will soon have her own investment firm.

Mary Meeker, a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins, plans to depart the firm later this year to start a new investment fund, Kleiner said. The venture firm had hired Meeker, a former Wall Street analyst known as the Queen of the Internet for her bullish coverage of internet stocks, in 2010.

Her exit comes as Kleiner plans to spin off its practice of investing in more mature and larger private companies, known as late-stage investing, into a separate entity. Three other investors at Kleiner — Mood Rowghani, Noah Knauf and Juliet de Baubigny — will join the new firm, which has not yet settled on a name, Meeker said in an interview.

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In the meantime, Meeker and her partners will continue to invest money from Kleiner's KPCB Digital Growth Fund III, a $1 billion vehicle, the firm said. More than half the money in the fund has been deployed into start-ups.

The changes are the latest shake-up at the storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm, which in its heyday invested early in Netscape, Sun Microsystems, Google and Amazon. But after the dot-com bust last decade, Kleiner missed the initial wave of social networking start-ups and focused on putting money into technologies that would help the environment. In recent years, other venture firms have risen and garnered more buzz, while Kleiner has shrunk.

In 2016, Kleiner wound down an investing program called Edge, which was designed to put money into very young start-ups. Several venture capitalists have left the firm, with John Doerr, the firm's most high-profile investor, stepping back from day-to-day responsibilities in 2016. Last year, Kleiner also spun off its clean-tech investment arm into a separate entity called G2VP.

Kleiner's image also was battered by a gender discrimination suit brought by one of its former investors, Ellen Pao, and a 2015 trial on the matter. The firm won the suit, but Pao's allegations and treatment in the trial received renewed attention last year with the publication of "Reset," her tell-all book about her experience.

Meeker's departure means Kleiner will lose one of its best-known partners. Meeker is a high-profile investor and delivers an annual internet trends report on the future of the technology business that is often regarded as required reading. She has also led the firm's investments in more mature start-ups and yielded several successful bets by putting money into Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and Snap when the companies were further along.

With the new firm, Meeker said that she and her partners plan to invest in mature technology start-ups, with the potential to seek more deals outside of the United States. The split affords her and her partners more flexibility and focus, she added.

"We believe focus, focus, focus, nimbleness and specialization will help us," she said.

Ted Schlein, a longtime partner at Kleiner, will lead the firm's investment practice, alongside Mamoon Hamid, who joined from another venture firm, Social Capital, last year. Other partners include Eric Feng and Wen Hsieh.

Schlein said changes to the investment landscape, including the influx of capital into private technology start-ups, were a factor in spinning out the practice of investing in older start-ups. He said that Kleiner will focus on putting money into start-ups that are more nascent.

"We would much rather be far more specialized and win, and dominate those sectors we are focused on," he said.

The firm is attempting to stabilize with a new generation of investors. In addition to hiring Hamid, known for backing Slack, Box and Yammer, the firm also recently brought on Ilya Fushman, a former investor at Index Ventures.