Benchmark Capital to open London office

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Benchmark Capital, a Silicon Valley venture firm whose investments include eBay, has announced the creation of a $500 million fund devoted to the European market.

Benchmark will be backing early-stage high-tech start-ups from their new London office. This is the first top-tier Silicon Valley venture firm to capitalise on investment opportunities in western Europe.

The new fund will allow entrepreneurs access to high executive recruitment, the refinement of corporate strategy, and open the door to strategic partnerships – services which can accelerate start-up time dramatically.

“There is plenty of capital available in Europe, but we will provide company-building services and expertise that no one else provides there,” said Steve Spurlock, operating partner at Benchmark.

 “The social and political attitudes in Western Europe toward technology start-ups and risk-taking have recently undergone transformation, and the prospects for creating world-class companies in Europe now rival those of the US,” said Bruce Dunlevie, general partner at Benchmark.

Benchmark believes that the exponential use of the Internet, particularly wireless applications, is creating new markets. Looking at the evolution of European technology, they believe the time is ripe to broaden the company’s reach outside North America.

According to Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of eBay, believes that Benchmark Capital is probably one of the best-positioned companies to take advantage of this opportunity.

“Benchmark’s track record of helping entrepreneurs build successful companies speaks for itself,” said Brad Koenig, head of Goldman Sachs Global Technology Investment Banking practice.  “I've worked with many of the Benchmark partners over the last several years, and have first-hand experience

 their ability to provide guidance, add value and make high level introductions for my company,” said Marc Andreessen, a founder of Netscape and now co-founder and chairman of Loudcloud, a recent Benchmark investment.

Benchmark Europe I will focus on early-stage investing in technology companies that seek to create new markets in areas where the partners have direct experience. These areas include application services, consumer devices, e-Commerce, infrastructure services, networking equipment, semiconductors, and software.

Benchmark’s portfolio includes franchise companies such as Ariba Technologies, Broadbase Software, CacheFlow, Critical Path, eBay, Juniper Networks, Kana Communications, Northpoint Communications, Red Hat Software, Scient, Turnstone Systems, Webvan and Wink Communications.

Managing more than $1.4 billion in committed venture capital, Benchmark focuses on early-stage investing in markets where the partners have directly relevant experience.

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