VCs go all in against DFJ

Normally, saying things like, “Death to Draper” will land you in a slander suit, but this was for a good cause.

Last month, Silicon Valley investors, lawyers and operations folk gathered for the annual Sand Hill Invitational poker tournament at the Menlo Circus Club. Among the teams was one nicknamed “Death to Draper,” which was made up of folks from Sierra Ventures, including Principal Patel Vimal. The team’s disdain for Draper Fisher Jurvetson was not over deal flow; DFJ won the tourney last year,.

DFJ’s Steve Jurvetson and his fellow card sharks weren’t so lucky this year. The winner of the team event was Fishin’ Chips, the nickname for TriplePoint Capital, a venture finance company. Second place finisher was “IVP,” the nickname for Institutional Venture Partners. The “Death to Draper” squad took third place.

Winning the individual event was TriplePoint Office Manager Erin Jang, who’s been dubbed the “Queen of Sand Hill Road.”

Organizer David Adams, a managing director at Rocket Ventures, noted that only a handful of women played in the tourney, but the final showdown featured Jang against Heather Mewes, an attorney at Fenwick & West.

The event raised $16,000 for charity. It was split between the Peninsula Open Space Trust and the East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring program.

Behind the green Doerr

Ever since he invested in the Segway “human transporter” as an alternative to the automobile, John Doerr has given the impression that he’s anti-oil. He solidified that position in August when he stood alongside Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez in Sacramento in support of a bill that aims to cut the level of greenhouse gas emissions in California. The bill is opposed by big business, which claims it will drive up energy costs.

“I think the losers will be those who don’t change,” Doerr said.

And Doerr has put his money where his mouth is. In addition to backing the Segway, he was instrumental in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ decision to set aside $100 million, or one-sixth of its latest fund, for what it calls “greentech.” KP even the $100,000 KPCB Prize for Green Innovation.

Says KP’s website: “Our planet is facing a green crisis. Our enormous demand for energy is outpacing supply at an alarming rate. We are exhausting dwindling resources in ways that accelerate carbon emissions, global warming, and harmful climate change. And our addiction to oil is funding both sides of the war on terrorists, weakening democracy and our economy.”

Given all that green talk, we were more than a little surprised to read in Technology Daily PM magazine that Doerr and his wife Ann wrote a $1,000 check this year to Ted Stevens, the Republican senator from Alaska who has repeatedly tried to approve oil drilling in Alaska’s Artic National Wildlife Refuge. The only thing we can figure is that the donation was some sort of mistake. That would explain why the Doerrs also gave money to Maria Cantell, the freshman senator in Washington who has had very public run-ins with Stevens.

Check the blog date

When people want news, they’re increasingly turning to blogs to see what’s been posted. Often times, the lack of a post is just as telling.

News leaked out in early August that Scott Maxwell is leaving his post as managing director of New York-based Insight Venture Partners to launch a new firm called Openview Partners, which will likely raise $100 million for its inaugural effort.

Few details are available on the new fund, but sources say Maxwell is aiming to sew things up in September or October.

Readers of Maxwell’s blog ( were probably already aware something was up with the software and Internet investor. He hadn’t updated the blog since late April.

Sources also say that he’ll resume blogging once his new venture has closed the fund.

The guilt of jet ownership

Jeff “Boom Boom” Marshall isn’t the first investor to fall in love with aircraft. Reid Dennis, founder of Institutional Venture Partners, is renowned for flying his seaplane around the world in 1997, accompanying Linda Finch on her re-creation of Amelia Earhart’s last flight. Other VC flyers include Franklin “Pitch” Johnson of Asset Management; Don Valentine and Doug Leone of Sequoia Capital; Jeff Drazan, co-founder of Bertram Capital; John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins; and Mayfield’s Kevin Fong.

These deep-pocketed VCs have always argued that planes are about convenience—not status or fun. Leave it to Marshall, a managing partner with the private equity and venture capital firm RockRidge Capital Partners in Stamford, Conn., to highlight why owning a jet these days actually makes perfect sense. He told an AP reporter recently that his two-seat L-39 attack fighter jet, used by the Soviet Air Force in the ‘80s, not only flies 400 mph—burning nearly 200 gallons of fuel an hour—but it can also transport him anywhere in about 20 minutes.

Gas mileage notwithstanding, that’s pretty hard to beat, especially when commercial airlines will take at least 20 minutes to look over your carry-ons. Unfortunately, Marshall, like many in the jet owners club, feels the need to act modestly about his means of transport. Marshall says in the AP story: “One time, it was a very hot day and we took off out of Nantucket and going west along I-95 it was solid from Stamford to Rhode Island. I’m looking down at them from 1,500 feet, and I felt so guilty.” Yeah, right.

NY ’zine rips Patricof

Longtime media investor Alan Patricof, who recently got in on the $5 million funding deal of Huffington Post, got raked over the coals recently by the journalist-turned-entrepreneur-turned-columnist Michael Wolff in a New York Magazine article. It’s the kind of ongoing feud that, if they were playing baseball, would result in a lot of beaned batters, melees on the mounds and ejections from the game.

Instead, Wolff just uses the power of the press to cross swords, actually writing that Patricof is a sonofableep. Wolff did the same things a few years back in a retrospective of the magazine. And the columnist has famously been grinding his ax on Patricof’s name years before that. Wolff’s 8-year-old book Burn Rate recounted how, in amusing detail, his 1990s Internet startup Wolff New Media was courted and then abruptly dumped by Patricof (along with other fickle suitors).

Of course, Patricof—who’s investing from his new firm Greycroft Partners—was an early investor in New York Magazine more than three decades ago.