Alsop reels in a big one

Stewart Alsop landed the big one. No, he and his partner, Gilman Louie, haven’t reeled in their first fund for Alsop Louie Partners. The fly fisherman landed a huge rainbow trout. He was in New Zealand on business when he caught the seven-pound fish on a weekend jaunt on the Tongariro River on the north island.

The former journalist and ex-New Enterprise Associates general partner is raising a $75 million early stage tech fund with former In-Q-Tel CEO Louie. When VCJ asked him if the fund had held its first close, Aslop responded via email: “Now, fish… That’s something I can talk about until the world experiences its last close! … Feel free to publish [the fish photo] in a newsletter, but I’m not sure I should be admitting that I was fishing in the middle of fundraising.”

To be fair, Alsop hasn’t been playing hooky from the fund-raising circuit. He was in New Zealand because he was invited by the government to give a speech to Kiwi entrepreneurs.

Perkins battered by HP spying scandal

Once upon a time, serving on a public board brought prestige and a few extra bucks. Considering how political some boards have become, VCs have to seriously wonder if it is worth it to keep their public board seats.

It came to light in September that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers co-founder Tom Perkins quit the Hewlett-Packard board in May after learning that HP had spied on board members and reporters while trying identify the source of a company leak.

The scandal has prompted investigations on the state and federal level and has drawn scrutiny from the U.S. Congress, which asked outgoing HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, hotshot attorney Larry Sonsini (who is HP’s outside counsel) and others to testify at a hearing on Sept. 28.

Perkins, who has a sterling reputation, has been treated very poorly by HP. First, the company allegedly hired someone who pretended to be Perkins (a practice being called “pretexting” instead of plain old “lying”) to get access to Perkins’ phone records.

What’s worse, after Perkins blew the whistle on the spying operation and blamed Dunn for it, Dunn came out swinging and essentially called him a liar.

The Mercury News reported that it obtained an email that Perkins had sent to Sonsini that said the following: “The investigation was a Pattie Dunn program, 100 percent—conceived and managed by her, and unknown to the board, except perhaps in the most vague and imprecise terms, with the possible exception of Mark [Hurd, HP’s CEO], who she may have briefed.”

Dunn told the Mercury News: “Tom is wrong. He knew about the investigation. He himself posed arguably more aggressive methods. He advocated very strongly to me that we use lie detectors.”

Dunn has alleged that Perkins was upset when he learned that the primary leak suspect was Jay Keyworth, a friend and fellow director who has since resigned from the HP board. “Tom is very upset with me because I didn’t go along with his desire to cover this up,” Dunn told the newspaper. “He wanted Jay’s identity to be kept secret. Tom is a very powerful, very formidable individual to have as an enemy. I regret that very much, but I could never have done it the way he wanted it to be done.”

Perkins did not respond to VCJ’s email seeking comment about Dunn’s remarks. A spokesman for Perkins told the Mercury News: “Ms. Dunn is trying to shift the focus away from her authorizing an invasive and illegitimate investigation that she oversaw.”

Thiel channels Ponce de Leon

If Peter Thiel isn’t careful, he could end up being the Joe Firmage of Web 2.0. Firmage was a Web 1.0 superstar, founding USWeb in 1995 and taking it public two years later. Then he started talking publicly about his belief in extraterrestrials and became known as UFO Joe.

We’re not saying Thiel believes in UFOs, but his hefty donation to a foundation searching for a “cure” for human aging doesn’t exactly put him in the mainstream. Thiel, who made his fortune with PayPal and is an active angel investor through The Founders’ Fund, has pledged $3.5 million to the Methuselah Foundation, a charity co-founded by controversial scientist Dr. Aubrey de Grey.

Thiel’s money will be used to fund research projects aimed at validating Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), which de Grey describes as “a detailed plan for curing human aging. SENS is an engineering project, recognising that aging is a medical condition and that medicine is a branch of engineering.”

Among de Grey’s critics is Richard Miller, a University of Michigan professor on aging who wrote a letter to Grey in the Technology Review last year in which he suggested de Grey conduct research on another vexing problem: producing flying pigs.

Thiel could not be reached for comment. But he said in a prepared statement: “I’m backing Dr. de Grey, because I believe that his revolutionary approach to aging research will accelerate [advances in biological science], allowing many people alive today to enjoy radically longer and healthier lives for themselves and their loved ones.”

Hey, we hope Thiel’s right—for all our sakes—but we’re not counting on it.