Benchmark Capital closes $425M seventh fund

Ronny Kerr · January 13, 2011 · Short URL:

Investor in Twitter, Yelp and Quora closes a new "oversubscribed" fund that nears size of last

Benchmark CapitalVeteran venture capital firm Benchmark Capital has closed $425 million for its “oversubscribed” seventh fund, peHUB reports. The fund could end up being as large as $505 million.

The sixth fund raised by Benchmark Capital was closed in 2008 with $500 million and its fifth was closed in 2004 with $400 million.

Benchmark’s biggest hit was eBay, a little online marketplace that the group injected with $6.7 million in 1997 and one that survived well beyond the bursting of the dot-com-bubble. eBay went public in 1998 and today, over a decade later, boasts a market cap of $37.43 billion--one of the biggest in the technology industry. 

The venture capital firm could have another impressive win on its hands with Twitter, which Benchmark invested in for the company’s fall 2009 funding round. In spite of the fact that social sites have yet to really prove they're worth the weight of their server space in gold (unless you’re a social gaming company), Twitter and Facebook have wowed the financial world with their epic valuations.

Other investments include Quora, Yelp and Zendesk. (Scroll down to see the complete current portfolio.)
Here are a few other startups from Benchmark’s portfolio that we’ve covered:

  • Zuora, a subscription billing service, closed a $20 million Series C round with repeat participation from Benchmark. (November 2010)
  • Mobile payments startup Boku, which was in acquisition discussions with both Apple and Google, has raised $38 million from several high-profile firms, including Benchmark. (November 2010)
  • ResearchGATE, a social network for scientists, raised an undisclosed Series A round with participation from Benchmark partner Matt Cohler. (September 2010)

Benchmark invests in all kinds of companies at various stages of life.

Early-stage investment firm Avalon Ventures also closed a new fund this week, Avalon Ventures IX LP, the firm’s ninth and largest at $200 million. Avalon funds Kaltura, Scoopler and Zynga.

Benchmark portfolio

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ResearchGATE is the leading professional social network for scientists and researchers to collaborate, share and network. The Boston and Berlin based startup has 300,000 registered users from more than 200 countries. ResearchGATE enables users to connect with colleagues, discover new research, share scientific methods and collaborate online.






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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.



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Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great (and not so great) in your world. You already know that asking friends is the best way to find restaurants, dentists, hairstylists, and anything local. Yelp makes it fast and easy by collecting and organizing your friends' recommendations in one convenient place.

Yelp is...

...the ultimate city guide that taps into the community's voice and reveals honest and current insights on local businesses and services on everything from martinis to mechanics.

...just real people, writing real reviews, and that's the real deal.

...a fun and engaging place for passionate and opinionated influencers to share the experiences they've had with local businesses and services.

...the definitive local guide in the San Francisco Bay Area and a force to be reckoned with in Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle. But really, we're everywhere. From Austin to Madison and everywhere in between, reviews are coming in from all over the country!

...word of mouth marketing - amplified. Savvy local marketers now have a great channel to effectively target local consumers.

Since July 2004, co-founders Jeremy Stoppelman (CEO) and Russel Simmons (CTO) and their Yelp crew have been striving to make life better for people who love to patronize great local businesses. Discovering accurate information on local establishments has never been this entertaining. Writing reviews has never been this fun, easy and addictive!