KP Bulks Up Life Sciences Team

For the fourth time in 2005, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has drafted a new player.

Next month, Dana Mead will join the Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm as a partner. Along with managing partners Brook Byers and Joe Lacob, Mead will focus on investments in life sciences.

Mead, 46, is yet another big hire for an expanding Kleiner Perkins. The firm recently named Bill Joy and Randy Komisar partners. Joy was the longtime chief scientist at Sun Microsystems and is credited with helping architect Sun technologies Solaris, SPARC, and Java. Komisar co-founded Claris and served as CEO of Lucas Arts, among his many other roles.

Kleiner Perkins also brought on board Beth Seidenberg as an entrepreneur in residence. Seidenberg, a former senior vice president at Amgen, joined the firm earlier this month and will also look at life sciences companies.

The firm closed fund 11 in early 2004 with $400 million in LP commitments. A representative from the firm declined to say how much of the fund is slated for life sciences and what percentage is for IT investments. Since hes joining in the middle of the fund, Mead wasnt able to provide insight into the funds allocation.

But it wouldnt be surprising if the firm stepped up its life sciences investments. A number of VC-backed biotech companies have been launching IPOs in the last year. Meanwhile, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is gearing up to fund stem cell research. The organization was created to oversee the $3 billion that California will raise and spend for stem cell research following the passage last year of Proposition 71. Earlier this month, the Institute selected San Francisco as its host city last month following speeches by Byers and other city representatives.

Mead says that he will focus on medical devices, pharamaceuticals, and biologics. He hasnt joined any boards yet and wont officially join the venture firm until next month, but he has been looking at potential deals for Kleiner Perkins for the past several months.

Mead has some early stage experience, though the majority of his career has been spent in big business. Mead is joining from Guidant Corp. (NYSE: GDT), a global manufacturer of cardiovascular devices, such as pacemakers and implanted defibrillators. Until last week, he was the president of Guidant Vascular Intervention, a division with more than 4,500 employees, including roughly 1,000 in Santa Clara, Calif., where Mead was based.

For Guidant, he sat on the boards of startups Cardia and eValve. (Guidant is an active investor in early stage technologies and companies, some of which have been launched by Guidant alums.)

Mead also says that he worked in business development at Origin Med-Systems, a surgical tools startup company that was acquired by Eli Lilly in 1992.

The addition of Mead likely came as a bit of a surprise to his corporate colleagues. In December, Guidant and Johnson & Johnson Inc. (NYSE: JNJ) will likely finalize their $25.4 billion merger agreement. And Mead says, [Guidant] expected me to continue on, and I was aware that Id play a significant role at the new organization.

However, Mead changed his mind when Byers, with whom he has crossed paths with socially, asked him to join Kleiner Perkins. Mead was lured by the fact that the firm is a couple of miles from where he and his family live, he will travel a lot less and hell have the opportunity to work in VC, an industry he says that he has been eyeing for the past 15 years.

KP does a good job of tracking people, and when Brook saw us being acquired by J&J, he thought this might be a good inflection point in my career, Mead says.