Benchmark is an American venture capital firm responsible for the early stage funding of several successful startups including Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, and Instagram. In 1997, the firm invested $6.7 million in eBay, which made it worth more than $5 billion by the spring of 1999. Other high-profile investments have included or currently include Instagram, Zillow, Zipcar, Zendesk, Yelp, Demandforce, and Proofpoint as well as Ariba, Juniper Networks, Red Hat, and Twitter. Benchmark is noted for creating the first equal ownership and compensation structure for its partners. The “maverick” firm differs from most VC firms, which are named for their founders and are structured hierarchically; Benchmark is “a lean operation in which its six full-time partners share profits equally.”
The firm announced in May 2012 it would be expanding beyond its Menlo Park, California headquarters by opening a second headquarters with more than 10,000 square feet in San Francisco’s emerging tech corridor, the Mid-Market neighborhood.
Benchmark has invested in more than 250 startups since its inception in 1995, including Art.com/Allposters.com, CTERA Networks, Confluent, Duo, HackerOne, Infinera, Lithium Technologies, Marin Software, Minted, MySQL, OpenTable, ResearchGate, Second Life, Snapchat, Talend, Tellme Networks, Vessel, Yelp, Inc., Zillow, and Zuora, as well as franchise companies like eBay, Juniper Networks, Tictail, Tropos Networks, and Red Hat. The firm manages nearly $3 billion in committed capital and has been widely recognized for its commitment to open source. Other notable investments include AOL, 1-800-Flowers, Ebags.com, Friendster, JAMDAT, MetaCafe, Palm Computing, Seeking Alpha, ServiceSource, Xapo, and Zipcar.Benchmark made its first China deal, Baixing, in 2009.
Since early 2011, Benchmark has had 25 exits, including 10 IPOs and 15 mergers and acquisitions, representing a total market value of more than $55 billion (as of January 2014).