If you paid a visit to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ Sand Hill Road headquarters on any given day, you’d likely bump into Chi-Hua Chien. Chien, who has emerged as one of the firm’s most accessible public figures since joining Kleiner some six years ago, is known for being a particularly engaged and responsive VC — always ready to pop into the office, provide advice to an entrepreneur, or talk shop with his fellow investment partners.
But aside from continuing his workaday routine, things are changing for Chien and other partners at the storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Sources say that Chien is in the process of transitioning out of his role at Kleiner, amid recent changes in the firm’s partner structure.
Both Chien and Kleiner Perkins declined to comment on this story.
Last month, Fortune’s Dan Primack reported that Chien was “thinking about launching his own venture capital fund” that would focus on early-stage consumer technology companies. Two other seed investing sources we spoke to backed up this story and said Chien has continued to look into building his own fund, as part of his plan to transition out of Kleiner. Another person familiar with the situation says that early interest from potential limited partners in a new Chien-led fund has been solid.
Chien, who joined Kleiner in 2007, has led the firm’s investments in a number of consumer web startups including Path, Klout, Zaarly, and Chill (as well as Spotify, the now-public Chegg and Twitter, and the Facebook-owned Karma.) Some people have speculated that it is partly the lackluster performances of some of these kinds of consumer web investments that led to Kleiner’s restructuring in October, which left Chien and several other partners off of the investment committee in charge of Kleiner’s latest fund. At that time, however, it was reported that no partners were leaving Kleiner as part of the changes.
Chien’s ongoing departure is said to be amicable on a personal level — he was in attendance at the firm’s holiday party, and continues to be active at other Kleiner events. People with knowledge of the situation say a more full exit will likely happen over the course of 2014.
We’ll be sure to keep tabs on Chien’s next moves, since he’ll no doubt continue to be someone to watch in the startup investing space. It’s just the latest example that as much as industries like venture capital can seem to take on an air of staid permanence, technology is at its heart about constant change — and the world of those who invest in the sector is no different.