Benchmark’s Bill Gurley, who led Uber deal, to stop writing new checks

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Bill Gurley

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Bill Gurley, the venture capitalist who led Benchmark’s investments in Uber, Stitch Fix and Zillow, will stop doing new deals this year and won’t be part of the firm’s next fund, CNBC has confirmed.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Wednesday that Gurley won’t be a partner in the fund that Benchmark is currently raising. The firm has reached out to partners in recent weeks about pulling in $425 million for its tenth fund, the Journal said.

Gurley has been an outspoken voice in Silicon Valley, criticizing start-ups for staying private too long and raising excessive amounts of capital without focusing enough on profitability. His views have been particularly controversial because Gurley was an early investor in Uber and on the board when the ride-hailing company became the poster child for those very practices. Benchmark was also a lead investor in WeWork and had a board seat, though it wasn’t held by Gurley.

Last year, Gurley began pushing publicly for companies to go public via direct listing instead of through traditional IPOs, so they can avoid selling a large chunk of the company at a discount to bankers and new investors. 

While he won’t be making new investments, Gurley will continue to work with his portfolio companies for the next decade, CNBC confirmed. He’s on the boards of 11 companies, including e-retailer Stitch Fix, neighborhood social network Nextdoor and cybersecurity company HackerOne. His position with Benchmark will be similar to the current roles held by Matt Cohler and Mitch Lasky, who were not listed as partners in the latest fund raised in 2018. 

Gurley is most known in tech circles for his instrumental role in the Uber drama. He was a central figure in the ouster of Uber’s then CEO Travis Kalanick in mid-2017, after a series of embarrassing stories surfaced about the executive’s behavior. Benchmark then sued Kalanick for fraud and breach of contract, claiming he made “material misstatements” to the board and hid crucial information to gain more control. The suit was later dropped.

In November of that year, Gurley addressed the matter in a TV interview with CNBC.

“Everything that happened this summer was a very difficult decision for us,” Gurley said, alluding to the removal of Kalanick. “The two questions we get most often are, ‘How could you possibly have done this?’ and ‘Why didn’t you do it sooner?’ Obviously, those are in stark contrast with one another.”

Gurley has spent over two decades at Benchmark. Prior to his career in venture capital, he worked as an internet analyst on Wall Street at Deutsche Bank, leading coverage of the Amazon IPO in 1997.

WATCH: Benchmark’s Bill Gurley on Uber and Stitch Fix:

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