Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Q: Why No Twitter Board Seat for Kleiner's John Doerr? A: His Google Board Seat (Plus, Is the Star VC Looking at Spotify and Groupon Next?)

Yesterday, star venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins forked over $150 million in funding to Twitter.

At at $3.7 billion valuation, that got him a big chunk of the San Francisco microblogging site.

But what it didn’t get him was a seat on the board of Twitter, which many figured he would be given for after handing over so much moolah.

According to sources familiar with the situation, that’s due to Doerr’s being a director on another board: Google.

Several sources who BoomTown spoke to, after breaking news of the massive funding, said that his being on the board of the search giant was seen as too much of a conflict of interest.

A conflict because Google has plans to wade deeply into the social space. And also, of course, because it is the No. 1 potential acquirer of Twitter, as the Silicon Valley company seeks to gather more tools to fight its latest rival, Facebook.

Doerr has very deep ties at Google, having been on its board since mid-1999.

He got that seat, along with Sequoia Capital’s Mike Moritz, after he ponied up a critical $25 million equity round for Google in June of that year.

Interestingly, no other Kleiner partner was named to a Twitter board seat either.

But, some speculate, it might make sense for Mary Meeker–who just joined Kleiner to head up digital investing efforts, after a long-time stint as a Wall Street analyst for Morgan Stanley–to eventually become a Twitter director.

Meeker has, of course, deep IPO and M&A experience.

And, frankly, after adding Flipboard’s Mike McCue and former DoubleClick exec David Rosenblatt yesterday and former Netscape exec Peter Currie recently to its all-boy board band, a woman director might be a good idea to consider.

Other directors at Twitter include Benchmark Capital’s Peter Fenton, Union Square Venture’s Fred Wilson, Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital, Co-founders Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey and CEO Dick Costolo.

I reached out to Doerr for a comment, but he has not yet replied; Twitter declined to comment.

Even more interesting to consider is what Kleiner will invest in next after this mega-funding, given how aggressively many sources said Doerr had pushed to lead the Twitter round.

And, in fact, sources said that Kleiner is looking closely at new funding rounds for both the Spotify music streaming service and Groupon, the social buying start-up that recently decided to turn down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google and an earlier $3 billion one from Yahoo.

Groupon is now seeking more funds to remain independent and hold onto its lead in the fast-growing local discounting market, sources said.

(Bloomberg also reported on Groupon’s new fundraising efforts, although it was written about after it turned down the Google offer.)

And Spotify, which is hugely popular outside the U.S., is trying to enter this market, but needs more funding to expand and perhaps strike better deals with music labels.

Both are the just the kind of companies Doerr has targeted in what looks like a serious effort to compete with other firms–especially Andreessen Horowitz and Russia’s DST Global.

They have garnered the heat Kleiner used to have, largely by backing more of the top entrepreneurs recently.

Doerr has already put money into social gaming phenom Zynga and also started an sFund for social-focused investments.

Add Twitter to the pile and you can see where this is headed: Except for the board seat, John Doerr will no longer be denied.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus