In April, news broke that Aileen Lee, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, was starting a venture fund that would be focused on smaller, “seed-stage” investments. The fund is separate from KPCB, however, KPCB will be the anchored investor, Lee said. At the time of the original report, many of the details beyond the “why” were still being worked out, including the fund’s size and name. Today we know a little more: it’s a $40 million fund and it’s being called “Cowboy Ventures.”
$40 million is a good size – most seed funds are anywhere from $10 million to $70 million. 32 investors have contributed to the fund so far, but no other members of the fund were listed in the SEC filing.
According to filing, the issuer behind Cowboy Ventures is “Cowboy Capital Fund I, LLC,” and it has closed on $36,000,000 the $40,000,000 being offered.
Although Lee plans to be full-time with Cowboy Ventures, she will also continue to hold her title as KPCB partner and will work with her portfolio companies there, which include Rent the Runway, One King’s Lane, Plum District, Dollar Shave Club, Offermatic, and others.
The name of the fund itself is interesting. On the one hand, “Cowboy” does invoke that spirit of the Wild West – a spirit that reflects many of the challenges of entrepreneurship: surviving, persisting, creating something new, hard-fought conquests to win space, establishing communities, etc. This even goes back to something Lee said in an interview with TechCrunch’s Colleen Taylor, when discussing the seed funding space. “Super early-stage companies have a village that form around them for support,” Lee noted at the time.
Still, you have to admit, “Cowboy” also sort of an odd choice for a woman who’s also passionate about gender diversity, saying she’s a “huge believer in power of women on the web” and that she understands “the role and importance of females in companies can make a big difference.”
But maybe we shouldn’t read too much in the name. It’s fun, and it’s certainly going to be memorable. Cowboy up, startups.
Note: We reached out to Lee before publishing, but she is traveling, so additional comment may be delayed.
UPDATE: Lee has now tweeted that “Cowboy” is her son’s name. She also responded via email, and we’ll have more on this when she’s back from her travels.