RealTime IT News

Benchmark Capital Brings $500 Million Fund to Europe

One of Silicon Valley's more famous names Tuesday moved to test the startup waters in Europe. In this version of an increasingly familiar tale, Benchmark Capital is carrying a $500 million fund in tow.

The Benchmark Europe I fund will be managed out of Benchmark Capital's new London office, with Benchmark's usual list of offerings to its entrepreneurs: early stage investing, executive recruiting, strategy consulting and partnership support.

The fund will initially seek out targets in new markets where Benchmark can network to experienced partners, such as application services, consumer devices, B2B, B2C and C2C e-commerce, networking equipment, and software.

Benchmark's $1.4 billion U.S. fund has assisted a roster of companies that includes Ariba Technologies (ARBA), Critical Path (CPTH), eBay (EBAY), Juniper Networks (JNPR), and Webvan (WBVN).

"The social and political attitudes that exist in Western Europe toward technology start-ups and risk-taking have recently undergone significant transformation, and the prospects for creating world-class companies in Europe now rival those of the U.S.," said Bruce Dunlevie, general partner at Benchmark.

"Exploding use of the Internet, and in particular wireless Internet applications, are creating many exciting new markets in Europe," said Kevin Harvey, General Partner at Benchmark. "We have studied the evolution of the European technology markets closely, and believe that the time is ripe to broaden Benchmark's reach outside North America."

While Benchmark Capital claims to be the first major Silicon Valley VC fund to open an office in the continent, several others have already set up shop to vie with local and imported VC interests as the Internet sector in the region picks up the pace. U.S. incubator Garage.com announced its intention to hit the European market late last year, and Japanese Net trendspotter Softbank previously joined with Vivendi to migrate popular formats to Europe. In addition, the Internet arm of the Arnault Group, Europ@Web, has also been active in its European startup investments over the past few months.