DFJ

Exclusive: Tim Draper is leaving DFJ

November 19, 2013: 3:20 PM ET

Venture capitalist Tim Draper is stepping back from the Silicon Valley firm he created 28 years ago.

Tim Draper

Tim Draper

FORTUNE -- Tim Draper will no longer be an investment partner with Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm he founded in 1985. Same goes for fellow "name" partner John Fisher, who three decades ago shared an office with Draper at investment bank Alex. Brown & Sons.

The news was shared earlier today at a private meeting of DFJ's limited partners. 

"Tim and John both want to do something different," explains a source who attended the meeting. "They're both going to remain active with their existing investments."

For Draper, "something different" means a focus on Draper University, his new entrepreneurship education program. He also is helping one of his sons get a startup accelerator off the ground, and is expected to continue making seed-stage investments out of a personal investment vehicle called Draper Associates.

Fisher is expected to continue serving as a managing director of DFJ Growth, an affiliate that focuses on the larger, more mature companies that he seems to favor.

And these are not DFJ's only changes, all of which will become effective when the firm raises its next fund. Longtime managing directors Jennifer Fonstad and Don Wood are "transitioning out," as is China investment chief Hope Chen. That last one is related to DFJ's decision to shutter its China and India offices. All three of them will continue to manage existing portfolio companies, and serve as managing directors of already-raised funds.

Earlier this year, DFJ announced that its broad network of partner firms would be restructured.

Something Tim Draper probably regrets doing.

Something Tim Draper probably regrets.

"DFJ has been a very good firm that simply tried to do too much, get too big," says another source. "It's like they wanted to be a one-stop VC shop for every single type of investment in every market, but they've finally realized that what they're best at is early-stage U.S. tech deals."

DFJ will not begin raising its next fund until early next year, but has told investors that it plans to target around $300 million (including a 10% commitment from the firm's partners, including a large check from Draper). The three general partners on that fund will be: Steve Jurvetson, Josh Stein and Andreas Stavropoulos.

Jurvetson will continue to focus on unusual, disruptive deals like ReThink Robotics, SpaceX and Tesla Motors (TSLA). Stein concentrates on enterprise tech deals like Box and Yammer (acquired by Microsoft), while Stavropoulos is oriented toward consumer tech deals like MeetUp and SugarSync.

Among those also helping to invest the next fund will be Bubba Murarka (ex-Facebook), Mohanjit Jolly (head of DFJ India, who will return to Silicon Valley) and Bill Bryant (based in Seattle).

Draper and Fisher will continue to serve on a strategic management committee that oversees the  broader DFJ empire, which includes the partner fund network and Draper Associates.

Despite all of these changes, the loss of Draper on DFJ's flagship funds will certainly be viewed as the most substantial. He is a third generation venture capitalist, whose grandfather co-founded the first VC firm in Silicon Valley and whose father helped form Sutter Hill Ventures. He also has been among the industry's most public faces, albeit not always for doing deals. In the 1990s, he played a recurring character  on a Nickelodeon TV show called The Naked Brothers Band (his daughter Jesse -- better known as The Valley Girl -- also regularly appeared). Draper also once won a charity auction to have Don Henley write a song around his lyrics, which culminated in The RiskMaster -- a song Draper is known to sing at the end of conference speeches. Yes, and then there is the infamous Captain America outfit he donned for Venture Capital Journal back in 2006.

"Tim isn't going to be doing new deals for DFJ, but he'll still be in the middle of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley," one of the sources said. "I don't really see him as the sort of guy who's even considered real retirement."

Sign up for Dan Primack's daily email newsletter on deals and deal-makers: GetTermSheet.com

Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.