One of the most prominent biotech investors in Silicon Valley, Dr. Beth Seidenberg, will be stepping down from her day-to-day role at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in the latest turnover at the venture capital firm, Recode has learned.
Seidenberg, one of nine general partners at Kleiner, is raising money to start her own firm to focus on biotech and health investing, according to people familiar with her plans. The only Kleiner general partner who expressly focuses on life sciences, Seidenberg will soon split her time; her eventual exit will inevitably raise some questions about Kleiner’s commitment to that type of venture investing.
Seidenberg remains a general partner in the firm’s existing funds, a Kleiner spokesperson said, but two people familiar with her plans said she would not serve as an investing partner in future funds.
Kleiner said it is committed to the life sciences but declined further comment. Seidenberg, who is under the “quiet period” of a fundraising process, could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
A 13-year veteran of Kleiner, her future exit will also be the latest change in an often-evolving roster of top investors at the prestigious VC firm. After criticism that it missed the most recent wave of innovation, Kleiner over the last several years has been rehauling its investing practice, recently under the guidance of Mamoon Hamid, who himself joined Kleiner last year from Social Capital.
“We’re not done yet,” Kleiner’s chairman, John Doerr, said on the most recent edition of Recode Decode. “Kleiner’s in a very good place, but it’s competitive.”
Kleiner has historically been one of the leading investors in life sciences, primarily under founding partner Brook Byers. Byers though now largely invests on his own, not through Kleiner. Some on the life sciences team have expressed frustration about the firm’s reluctance to not invest more in this particular area, according to one person in touch with the firm.
The firm is expected to still focus on specific areas like digital health, though, even if Seidenberg is not directly replaced.
Life sciences investing is a hot field, and Seidenberg, a trained doctor, will presumably be able to do a lot more total deals under her own themed fund than she would as part of a fund that also saves money to compete on consumer and software deals. Current portfolio companies include health monitoring startup Livongo and ARMO Biosciences, which was bought by Eli Lilly and Company for $1.6 billion just last week.
One person close to the firm said there was occasional tension with her partners over her desire to do more life-science deals, which she felt was merited given her track record. Seidenberg, though, also has been commuting from Los Angeles and will now be able to live there full time as she has long hoped, one person close to her said.
In addition to Hamid, Kleiner also recently poached Ilya Fushman, a well-regarded investor from Index Ventures. But the firm lost Mike Abbott, a former top engineer at Twitter, who left last July.
The firm, which has been under the spotlight on gender issues in recent years, is currently searching for one to two more investing partners, one of whom at least is likely to be a woman. Kleiner has one remaining female general partner: Mary Meeker.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.