VC Firm Aims at Europe with $500M Venture Fund

SAN FRANCISCO (03/06/2000) - Silicon Valley venture capital (VC) firm Benchmark Capital, whose investment portfolio includes the likes of eBay Inc. and Red Hat Software Inc., has set its sites on a new target: Europe.

The company will announce tomorrow that it has created a US$500 million fund to make early-stage investments in high-tech firms in Western Europe. The fund will be managed from a new office that Benchmark has opened in London, officials said in a statement issued late today.

Attitudes in Europe towards technology start-ups and risk-taking have been undergoing a transformation, and the prospects for creating new, world-class high-tech companies in Europe now rival those of the U.S., Bruce Dunlevie, a general partner at Benchmark, said in the statement.

Rapidly growing Internet use, and in particular opportunities surrounding wireless Internet applications, make Europe a ripe target for the company's investments, other Benchmark officials said.

Benchmark will target companies working in areas including applications services, consumer devices, e-commerce, networking equipment, semiconductors, and software. It will offer them help in areas like recruiting executives, honing a corporate strategy and forging partnerships.

Benchmark claims to be the first prominent Silicon Valley VC firm to have created a fund specifically for investments in high-tech companies in Western Europe.

Founded in 1995 and based in Menlo Park, California, the company's investment portfolio also includes Ariba Inc., CacheFlow Inc., Critical Path Software Inc., Juniper Networks Inc., Webvan Group Inc. and Wink Communications Inc.

Benchmark said it manages more than $1.4 billion in committed venture capital.

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