Hot Prospects: Chi-Hua Chien, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

By Reuters Staff
August 2, 2010

– The following profile is an abbreviated version of Venture Capital Journal contributor Deborah Gage’s piece for the the VCJ’s series on “Hot Prospects” within the venture capital industry. –

Chi-Hua Chien’s first experience with VC wasn’t pleasant. Nearly every morning for an entire week, at 7:00 a.m., he was summoned to a meeting with the backers of Coremetrics, who were threatening to shut down the faltering dot-com.

Coremetrics ultimately worked through its problems – just two months ago IBM said it would buy the company. And Chien’s performance during the company’s troubled period was not lost on Peter Fenton, then a partner of Accel Partners, one of Coremetrics’ backers.

“Chien’s most distinctive quality is his tireless optimism,” said Fenton, now a partner at Benchmark Capital. “He has absolutely zero cynicism, and that’s part of what you have to have in venture – a true belief in entrepreneurs and their ability to change the world.”

It wasn’t long before Chien caught the attention of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which offered to make him a partner and give him a key role in its iFund, which focuses on developers of apps for Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and now iPad.

Chien is happy to back companies with amazing growth potential but aren’t necessarily out to save the world – just make it more fun. He invested in Booyah, a company started by his college roommate, Keith Lee. Booyah uses a mobile game called MyTown to marry the physical and digital worlds.

Chien believes someday the entire world will be marked up and digitized, so you’ll be able to stand in one spot with your smart phone and rewind through time to see everything that happened there. All that data will be organized and made useful, he said, and that, in turn, should provide plenty of opportunities for sharp VCs.

QUICK FACTS

Name: Chi-Hua Chien

Occupation: Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Age: 32

Education: BS in Industrial Engineering (Mayfield Fellow) and AB in Economics (President’s Scholar), Stanford, 1999; MS in Industrial Engineering, Stanford, 2000; MBA, Stanford Graduate School of Business (Arjay Miller Scholar), 2006.

Work experience: Director of marketing, Coremetrics, 2001-04; corporate development officer, Google, 2005; Associate, Accel Partners, 2006-2007; Partner, Kleiner Perkins, 2007 to present.

Investments: Chien’s Kleiner investments are Booyah, a mobile social gaming company; Chegg, an online textbook rental site; ReputationDefender, which helps people control their online identities; and Working Equity, a provider of insurance to protect home values.

Twitter handle: @chchien

Why he became a VC: “I love startups, and venture capital is a great way to be involved in many startups and play a key role in helping them succeed.”

Sources: VCJ reporting and LinkedIn

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