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, [email protected], has
also been active in its European startup investments over the past few
months.

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