Kara Swisher

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Aileen Lee Launches Kleiner-Backed Seed Fund

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Aileen Lee is founding a new seed fund — still unnamed — that is focused on backing and helping develop early-stage start-ups.

Lee, who has been at the famed Silicon Valley venture firm for a dozen years, will remain a partner at Kleiner Perkins, although her full focus will be on the fund. While she declined in an interview this morning to say what the size of the new fund will be, most such efforts range from $10 million to $70 million.

Along with Kleiner, there will be several other unnamed investors and strategic partners, said Lee, who is in a quiet period of fundraising and could not give more details. It will be separate from Kleiner.

“I read a book that said you should make a big change every seven years, and this was an area of investing that I really have wanted to be in,” said Lee, who at Kleiner has backed companies such as One King’s Lane, Rent the Runway and Dollar Shave Club. “I really have become very interested at working with and helping entrepreneurs at the early stages of their growth.”

KP’s John Doerr said that while some VC firms are creating their own high-profile seed funds, he and Lee felt it was important for such an investment vehicle to be independent to be effective and also to work with other seed efforts that have exploded on the tech scene.

“But we wanted to invest in it, so it’s the best of both worlds,” he said. “It’s really important that start-ups at that stage get the kind of attention Aileen can give them.”

According to her bio on KP’s Web site, Lee worked at the Gap before her VC life, as well as Odwalla and the North Face. The MIT and Harvard Business School grad also worked at Morgan Stanley in technology mergers and acquisitions.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google