FORTUNE -- When I read yesterday that sandwich chain Potbelly's was considering an IPO, I went to the Benchmark Capital website to see if the VC firm still listed Potbelly's as a portfolio company (the original investment was more than a decade ago, and Benchmark isn't exactly known for food services).
But Benchmark's website no longer lists its portfolio companies. In fact, it no longer lists much of anything beyond an office address and Twitter handle. Not even a phone number or partner names/bios. So minimalist that it makes the sparse Andreessen Horowitz website look like an encyclopedia.
Here is the explanation from Benchmark partner Matt Cohler, via Quora:
"Benchmark is a small, focused partnership which has always functioned like a guild of artisan craftspeople rather than like a corporation. We believe this is the best model for supporting the entrepreneurs and startups we back. We updated the Benchmark logo and website to better reflect these core beliefs and values. The entrepreneurs and startups we back are important players in their fields and our focus is on having their stories heard. If you're looking for information about those entrepreneurs and startups you can always find it on our Twitter timeline and our Twitter lists, on Facebook, on Wikipedia, and on Quora."
I mentioned Benchmark's new strategy in this morning's Term Sheet email, and that I wasn't yet sure what I thought about it. That prompted the following reader email:
Whats not to like about them? They get great deal flow, make their investors out-sized returns, make seasoned professional decisions, are a name that most private firms would covet in the cap table… in short they don't have to promote their skills, their results do it for them.
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that I don't "like" Benchmark. I'm simply trying to reconcile its website reduction with a broader industry trend in which firms have argued that increased transparency helps entrepreneurs better understand if their company fits the firm's strategy and expertise. Not only in terms of investment focus (e.g., "we concentrate on early-stage consumer IT companies"), but also how specific partners think about issues (i.e., links to partner blogs). Plus basic partner biographical info that would let an entrepreneur know what companies individual partners have backed, plus what they did before becoming venture capitalists.
To be sure, Cohler is correct that enterprising entrepreneurs can find most of that information elsewhere on the Web. And perhaps there is value in preemptively weeding out those who don't bother to make such an effort. But the flip side is that Benchmark also could be opening up the firehose of startup pitches, since it no longer makes clear the types of companies it doesn't support. Or, even worse, Benchmark could cause certain entrepreneurs to favor other firms that make their lives mildly easier.
Or perhaps I'm reading way too much into a redesigned website. Interested in your thoughts... Oh, and in the meantime, Potbelly is "liked" on Benchmark's Facebook page.
Sign up for Dan's daily email newsletter on deals and deal-makers: GetTermSheet.com
Can an online, for-profit university become education's gold standard?
Entrepreneurs always want to challenge the incumbent, whether it be AT&T, Google or Walmart. But Ben Nelson has a much larger, more entrenched target in his sights: The Ivy League.
Nelson is the founder and CEO of Minerva Project, which bills itself as "the first elite American university launched in a century." Academically-rigorous admissions criteria, online courses with limited class sizes, reinvented teaching MOREDan Primack - Apr 3, 2012 4:44 PM ET
In my Monday email column, I wrote the following while waiting for Facebook to file IPO papers:
Twitter, you're on the clock. Last year at this time, we regularly discussed how the secondary private markets were being boosted by the exit prospects of three companies: LinkedIn, Groupon, Zynga, Facebook and Twitter. The first three are already public. Facebook is filing. That means Twitter is all that's left. Will it be the private MOREDan Primack - Feb 3, 2012 1:29 PM ET
IPOs can be great for companies. So long as they happen.
By Bill Gurley, contributor
I am a big believer that the IPO can play a key role in the development of a company's life. Moreover, I have argued that many in our ecosystem have an unhealthy anxiety regarding the dangers and consequences of being public. Lastly, I have argued that the IPO window is wide open for great companies – something I still MORESep 15, 2011 4:48 PM ET
Benchmark Capital is raising up to $505 million for its seventh fund, according to a pair of regulatory filings. The vehicle is split into a $425 million general fund and an $80 million "founders fund," which I'd assume will be made up of past and present portfolio company founders.
The Silicon Valley venture firm lists seven partners on its filings, but does not include firm co-founder Bob Kagle or partner Alex MOREDan Primack - Jan 13, 2011 4:59 PM ET
|Michaels hack hit 3 million|
|GM's recalled Cobalt was a failure from the start|
|Detroit pension cuts hit civilian workers hardest|
|Obama would cut deficits by another $1 trillion|
|Canadians arrest a Heartbleed hacker|