Benchmark Israel ramping up for fund III

Benchmark Israel will likely be back out on the fund-raising market in 2009, Benchmark Capital General Partner Steve Spurlock tells PE Week.

The statement is particularly significant in light of the turnover since the firm last raised its second fund, a $250 million vehicle, in 2005. General partners Mark Kremer and Nachman Shelef, who had been with the firm since 2001, have both left.

Shelef founded a telecommunications company in June 2006 called ConteXtream and launched a cleantech company for large-scale energy storage in January 2007, according to his online bio. Kremer took over as CEO of Vector Capital and Greylock Partners-backed Symantec spinout Precise Software Solutions, a company that makes application performance management software.

The only remaining general partner that was involved in the firm’s previous fund-raising is Arad Naveh.

The firm’s new general partners include Elie Wurtman, who joined in August 2006 from gaming company Powerchallenge, and Michael Eisenberg, who joined in June 2005 from Israel Seed Partners.

Benchmark Israel operates independently of U.S.-based Benchmark Capital, but the firms “share economics,” Spurlock says. “We have an interest in their funds and vice versa. Our expectation is that at some point the team and the portfolio will be such that they ought to be an independent firm. That point in time is not today. I’m not sure when it is.”

Benchmark severed its relationship with its European affiliate, now known as Balderton Capital, in 2007.

Benchmark launched the Israeli affiliate in 2001 with a $260 million fund. —Alexander Haislip