Maverick Maples launches new fund

Early stage investing maverick Mike Maples Jr. is raising a second fund, PE Week has learned.

Maples declined to discuss the size of the fund or any other details, but he said that his strategy of investing in early new media companies would remain the same.

Maples’ first fund, a $15 million vehicle raised in 2006, has backed several high profile deals, often at the earliest stages of investment. The investor’s best-known deal may be his investment in social news site Digg. Other investments include content student marketplace Chegg, website builder Weebly and Internet advertising and marketing services provider YuMe.

Limited partners in Maples’ first fund, called Maples Investments, include nine individual investors, according to regulatory filings, and Austin Ventures. Maples used to live in Austin, Texas, and knew each of the investors in his first fund for more than a decade, he told PE Week affiliated publication VCJ last fall.

Maples, now lives in Atherton, Calif. He worked at both Foundation Capital and August Capital before starting his own firm. And he was a co-founder of Motive, a broadband software developer, in 1997.

Maples’ investment firm is one of four single-general partner firms launched in the past two years. Others include former VSP investor Vince Vannelli’s $15 million KPG Ventures; Tugboat Ventures, run by Dave Whorton, a former GP for Texas Pacific Group Ventures; and SoftTech VC, run by Jeff Clavier, former president of RVC Capital.

In addition, a fifth fund, Kepha Partners, is in the midst of being raised by Jo Tango, formerly a GP at Highland Capital Partners.

One of the advantages to being the only VC at a firm is not having to meet before making a decision on an investment. Maples says that he learned this first hand last year when he sat in on a Y Combinator entrepreneur camp and watched the startups present. Afterward, he sat down with several angel investors also in attendance.

“A bunch of us got together and decided Weebly was our favorite, so we said, ‘Let’s get them a term sheet this weekend,’” he previously told VCJ. The startup, which helps users make Web pages, raised $650,000 from Maples and angel investors Ron Conway, Steve Anderson, Paul Buchheit and Aydin Senkut.

“People later called to see if we wanted to partner on a Weebly deal, but it was already done,” Maples says.

That’s not the first time speed was important for Maples. He had a shot to step in and fund Revision3, the media startup founded by the team behind Digg, but he had to act fast before they turned to another investor: “They were concerned about whether they were going to have enough money to sign a lease,” he said. “I basically said I’d be there in 24 hours. I didn’t have to go back to my partners. I could be Johnny-on-the-spot.”