Venture firm Benchmark raises new fund without early Uber investor: source

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FILE PHOTO: Bill Gurley, General Partner at Benchmark, presents during the 2018 Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S., April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) – The Silicon Valley venture capital firm known for its early backing of companies such as Uber Technologies Inc is raising a new fund, but without one of its most prominent general partners, a source close to the firm said on Wednesday.

Benchmark is raising a $425 million 10th fund, the person said, after a long track record of early backing for major tech firms such as eBay Inc and Twitter Inc.

But influential general partner Bill Gurley, who led the firm’s early investment in Uber, one of the largest tech companies to emerge in the past decade, will not be part of the new fund, the person said.

The Wall Street Journal reported the development earlier on Wednesday.

Gurley has been a vocal advocate for direct listings, an alternative way for companies to become publicly traded that gives both early investors such as Benchmark and tech company employees paid with stock a way to sell their shares for cash while paying potentially fewer fees to investment banks.

Spotify Technology SA and Slack Technologies Inc – neither of which was a Benchmark investment – used the technique, but Uber held a traditional initial public offering last year.

Another source close to Benchmark said Gurley was not “going anywhere.” He will remain on 11 boards of Benchmark portfolio companies and will work with the firm and the founders of those startups for “many, many years into the future,” the source said.

The sources declined to say why Gurley was not joining the latest fund.

Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee in Sedona, Arizona; Editing by Stephen Nellis and Peter Cooney

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