VC firm to announce $100 million `Java Fund'

Ten major IT players put their financial weight behind Java; Active Software, Marimba among companies to be funded

August 9, 1996 -- In the next two weeks, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers (KPCB), a leading venture capital firm focused on technology companies and located in Menlo Park, CA, will announce that it has established a "Java Fund" worth 00 million, sources told JavaWorld. As many as ten major hi-tech companies, including Cisco Systems, Compaq Computer, IBM, Netscape Communications, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), are contributing to the fund.

Sources say two companies have already benefited from KPCB's new Java Fund: Active Software and Marimba.

Active Software, a Mountain View, CA-based company, provides software-oriented communications systems that connect Java applets with databases and will evolve to connect Java with database applications, ActiveX, and other enterprise information sources. On July 1, Active Software introduced ActiveWeb, an application development tool that combines the features of an enterprise-class development tool with comprehensive Web application development functions.

Marimba, the Palo Alto, CA-based company formed by four former JavaSoft employees Kim Polese, Jonathan Payne, Arthur van Hoff, and Sami Shaio, referred to the VC firm in the Announcements section of its home page. The sentence read "Marimba is funded by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, & Byers," with a link to KPCB's Web site, which was not accepting connections at the time of this writing.

In a phone conversation August 9, JavaWorld asked Polese to comment on the Web-site reference to KPCB. "You caught me by surprise," said Polese, stating that she was unaware of this addition to Marimba's home page. She cut the conversation short to look into the matter. The KPCB reference disappeared shortly thereafter, and Polese declined to discuss the Java Fund.

For those in the Java community, news of the Java Fund is expected to stir up a lot of excitement. The creation of the fund represents "a big stamp of endorsement" for Java and a huge opportunity for the Java marketplace, said a source familiar with the fund who requested anonymity.

"We think Java's the next billion dollar industry. And this kind of fund would be proof that the rest of the industry thinks so too," said an industry watcher.

The somewhat eclectic group of companies financing the Java Fund -- ranging from Microsoft bashers to PC hardware makers and a major cable company -- apparently seeks to both enhance Java's legitimacy and promote its success. The VC strategy contrasts with the more traditional (and often less-than-successful) model of multi-vendor consortiums designed to promote particular technologies, such as the Unix operating system.

Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers, which would not comment on the development, plans to make a public announcement of the Java Fund in the next two weeks.

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