Revved Up Kleiner Perkins Adds Joy To Its Lineup

To employ some oft-used sports metaphors, the team at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KP) has not only added a new wrinkle to its offense, but its players – across the board – are putting in 110%, despite year-old plans to slowly retire part of its lineup.

Last week, KP announced it hired as a full-time partner Bill Joy, the computer scientist best known for co-founding Sun Microsystems in 1982 and helping develop Java and other technologies.

The move reunites Joy with his friend and KP partner Vinod Khosla, who also co-founded Sun, as well as the firm’s managing partner John Doerr, with whom Joy has been working with informally for years. As an investor in the three-person partnership Highbar Ventures, Joy has funneled numerous ideas and entrepreneurs to Doerr and the rest of the KP team, which has made an undisclosed amount of investments with his help.

But Joy’s official addition to the Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm deepens an already sizable investing bench comprising six managing partners, who have fiduciary responsibilities, and seven partners.

The distinction between the two appeared to bear significance last February when the firm closed its eleventh fund at $400 million. At the time, KP announced in a statement that the “partners,” including Khosla, Kevin Compton, Will Hearst, Doug MacKenzie, John Denniston and Juliet Flint, would “work exclusively with the new KPCB fund on technology investing, while also planning to spend more time with family and on personal causes.”

In short, it sounded as though the six managing partners – Doerr, Brook Byers, Joe Lacob, Ted Schlein, Russ Siegelman and Ray Lane, who joined in late 2003 from Oracle Corp. – would do most of the heavy lifting.

Perhaps KP didn’t anticipate how busy a year it would have. In 2004, it sewed up 45 deals, a more than 60% increase over the 26 deals it did in 2003 and a deal making amount that rivals the 47 investments that the firm made in 2001. Nine of its investments last year went to startups, including the mobile game maker Digital Chocolate; enterprise data outfit MetaMatrix; The Graw Group, a social networking service that pairs family members with online communities; and Akimbo Systems, which sells content delivery hardware and software for streaming media on the Internet and corporate intranets.

Though Joy has been walking the firm’s halls for just a few short weeks, already he says, “I see all of the partners almost every day, so these distinctions [between partners and managing partners] are lost on me.”

Indeed, Kleiner’s most recently announced investment, in XenSource, underscores his point. When XenSource, which is developing various services and applications for software written in a new programming language called Xen, closed its $6 million Series A two weeks ago – with funding from Seven Rosen Funds, Intel Capital and KP – Compton joined the board.

Compton already sits on the boards of three other companies – KnowNow, Kodiak Networks and Intersperse – and was expected to slow down his investing pace along with the partners over the last year. However, in regards to his investing pace, Compton says that it’s work as usual at Kleiner. “My pace is pretty much unchanged; I’ve been investing at the same rate for the last 15 years.”

Compton pauses and jokes, “Unfortunately.”

Still, Compton says that he plans on “doing less deals going forward,” although a slowdown does not look likely anytime soon, for any of the partners. Joy, who will be focusing his attention partly on energy efficiency – a major interest of Doerr, too – says, “We see an enormous amount of exciting stuff coming.”