NEA’s founder to move to China

New Enterprise Associates’ Dick Kramlich will live in Shanghai for all of 2008, helping to source deals and build relationships.

New Enterprise Associates founder Dick Kramlich, one of Silicon Valley’s most veteran venture capitalists, will move to Shanghai for a year to boost his firm’s profile in China, a firm spokeswoman confirmed.

Dick Kramlich

“My daughter calls it 'senior year abroad,'” the 72-year old Kramlich told the Wall Street Journal. Kramlich, who will make the move with his family in January, also told the newspaper his firm is considering raising a fund denominated in Chinese yuan.

NEA has invested in China since 2000, and currently employs seven local professionals in its Beijing office. NEA has spent $300 million (€205 million) in some 15 Chinese companies, including several semiconductor manufacturers.

According to a report by Swiss advisory firm Strategic Capital Management, last year venture capital firms raised more than six times as much capital for Asia as they deployed. SCM attributed this to a lack of capable fund managers in the region.

Many venture firms now have China offices or affilates, including Redpoint Capital, Sequoia Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and BlueRun Ventures. But NEA will the first major Silicon Valley firm to send a founder to the country.

Kramlich is a Silicon Valley icon. He was the first person to invest in Ethernet technology, and backed the company that developed PowerPoint presentations. Before founding NEA in 1978, he was a general partner at Arthur Rock & Associates, a firm that invested in Intel and Apple.