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Kleiner Perkins launches $100m 'iFund'

Apple has passed over its original backers, Sequoia Capital and Venrock, and selected Kleiner Perkins to lead the company’s first product-focussed venture fund.

US venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has teamed up with iPhone maker Apple to launch the $100 million  (€65 million) “iFund”. Kleiner Perkins will manage the fund with Apple providing “market insight and support”, according to a statement.

If we need more than $100 million, we'll find more money.

Kleiner Perkins

Apple, whose initial venture capital backers in 1978 were Sequoia Capital and Venrock, is linked to Kleiner Perkins via former US President Al Gore, who is both on the Apple board of directors as well as a partner at Kleiner Perkins as part of a joint venture to back greentech companies along with Gore’s environment-focussed investment firm, Generation Investment Management. Gore will not be involved in managing the iFund.

Kleiner Perkins will invest in “as many great ventures as we see”, the firm said on its website, which also noted, “If we need more than $100 million, we’ll find more money.”

The iFund will back companies building applications, services and components for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch platforms, regardless of stage and size. Particular focus areas include location-based services, social networking, mCommerce, communication and entertainment.

Companies from seed stage to established products with revenue will be considered as long as the company has “long-term standalone potential”. Investment sizes will range from $100,000 to $15 million.

Matt Murphy

“Developers are already bursting with ideas for the iPhone and the iPod touch, and now they have the chance to turn those ideas into great companies with the help of world class venture capitalists,” said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs in a statement.

The fund will be managed by Kleiner Perkins partner Matt Murphy in collaboration with six additional partners.

Kleiner Perkins’ track record includes past investments in America Online, Amazon and Google. In May 2007, the firm opened two offices in China and launched a $360 million country-specific fund.