Partnership Model of Benchmark Capital

For the last 3 years I have been pretty fascinated with a company called Benchmark Capital.

Sorry for the cheesy picture but you'll notice none of these guys are wearing ties
Sorry for the cheesy picture but you'll notice that none of these guys are wearing ties

In 1997 the turned $6.7 million into $5 Billion by backing a small start up called eBay. They are a venture capital firm based out of the Silicon Vallley. But they aren’t exactly the cut throats that most of us might make your average billionaire to be. This is taken from their website:

When we created Benchmark, we created a new kind of venture firm – one that’s based on teamwork, superior service to entrepreneurs and an intense dedication to building technology companies of lasting value.

Results Through Teamwork

Unlike other venture firms where partners work independently and even compete for resources, we function as a team. Every full-time general partner is equal in terms of contribution and compensation. And, every partner is invested in each other’s success.

This unique team approach gives our portfolio companies the benefit of having all of our experienced, well-connected partners working for them, not just one. Whether it’s to help recruit executives, facilitate corporate partnerships, or get advice on strategic moves, each company has access to the combined resources of the entire firm.

This is such a weird way of doing business. It’s so un-capitalistic that it’s capitalistic…… or vice versa.

Another article said this:

Uniquely, profits would be distributed equally among the partners, a
practice said to eliminate infighting. The partners were not tagged
with ranks such as “senior” or “associate.” The group set for itself
the goal of becoming the number one venture capital firm within ten
years, hence the ambitious Benchmark name.

The story of their partnership has been a source of inspiration for me because when I think of business partnerships I want to think of something that I can invest in that will be long term. I also find it difficult to think of working “over” or “under” someone long term.  The fact that they figured out how to do this in a modern corporate environment is awesome. It brings me to a question that I have been asking for a while now.

  • Are christian ethics just something we tack onto any business model or might there be something more or less “christian” with the model itself?
  • If there was such a thing, what might a christian business model* look like?

You can read more about Benchmark Capital in a book called eBoys by Randall Stross…..or more realistically here’s the wikipedia article.

* I don’t really believe in “christian” bumper stickers, “christian” music, or “christian” t-shirts and am not claiming that a biz model can be labeled as “christian” but am more asking what model might more reflect the Christian Ethic?


2 thoughts

  1. When I was working my ‘aviation’ job, the company I worked for managed their two business jets. Although I never met any of them, what I took in from their flight crews was that they were truly some of the coolest people they new. Family oriented and just all around great people.

  2. i’m pretty sure kevin harvey watched the first 45 seconds of my epipheo today

    Kevin Harvey is a General Partner at Benchmark Capital and a seasoned entrepreneur with a long track record of developing innovative technologies into successful enterprises. Prior to Benchmark, Kevin was founder, President and CEO of Approach Software where he led the development of the world’s first end-user client/server database for Windows. Approach Software was purchased by Lotus Development in 1993. Before founding Approach Software, Kevin founded Styleware and pioneered integrated software for the Apple II personal computer. Styleware was purchased by Claris Corporation where Kevin’s team went on to create ClarisWorks, one of the best-selling software programs for the Macintosh.

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