Kleiner Plays Catch-Up

Venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers led the late-1990s dot-com frenzy with investments in Netscape Communications Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and, later, Google Inc.

But after spreading its bets to clean technology — and missing out on early-stage investments in some of the hottest new Internet companies — the firm is scrambling to grab a leadership role in the latest Web boom.

That was evident at a June event in San Francisco, where the firm hosted a packed room of entrepreneurs. At the front of the room, Kleiner venture capitalist Bing Gordon spent an hour onstage espousing his theory of “gamification” — that is, how start-ups can benefit from using online gaming techniques — to the gathering.

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