BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 ISSUE
COVER STORY -- E.BIZ -- THE E.BIZ 25

Robert C. Kagle


ROBERT C. KAGLE

BENCHMARK CAPITAL

Position: General Partner

Contribution:Used his consumer marketing expertise to help launch such Internet darlings as eBay, E-Loan, and Ariba.

Ambition:To make Benchmark as dominant in venture capital as McKinsey is in management consulting.

Robert C. Kagle has come a long way from his days growing up in the Rust Belt burg of Flint, Mich. The oldest child in a single-parent family, Kagle was always looking to make a quick buck. For a time, he pushed an ice cream cart around his neighborhood. He took a job in the spark-plug division of General Motors Corp. (GM) He even did a stint at a tuxedo shop just so he would have a tux to wear to his high school prom--complete with top hat and cane.

Today, Kagle, 43, can afford to buy a chain of tuxedo stores--and then some. Thanks to his skill at spotting future Internet headliners such as auction pioneer eBay Inc. (EBAY) and online-mortgage upstart E-loan Inc. (EELN), the partner at venture-capital firm Benchmark Capital has emerged as one of the industry's elite investors. And, with Kagle as its spiritual leader, four-year-old Benchmark has become one of the hottest venture-capital firms in Silicon Valley.

eBay was Kagle's first home run. Benchmark's $5 million is now worth some $3.2 billion. And Kagle's personal take: A cool $170 million. Another Kagle winner is business-to-business upstart Ariba Inc. (ARBA), a $4 million investment now worth almost $1 billion.

Kagle believes tomorrow's online sensations will have chucked traditional marketing by demographics in favor of targeting individuals based on their up-to-the-minute purchasing habits. ''What's more valuable to know: that someone is a 35-to-45-year-old male who drives a Cadillac or that someone recently bought golf clubs and is going on a vacation?'' Kagle asks. The answer to that question is obvious. But it's quite another matter to pick companies that can do it. Fortunately for Benchmark, Kagle finds sharp entrepreneurs as readily as an ice cream cart jockey attracts kids on a summer afternoon.

By Linda Himelstein

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[empire builders]
Jeffrey P. Bezos
AMAZON.COM INC.

Stephen M. Case
AMERICA ONLINE INC.

Timothy A. Koogle
YAHOO! INC.

[the innovators]
Louis H. Borders
WEBVAN GROUP INC.

Jay S. Walker
PRICELINE.COM

Margaret C. Whitman
EBAY INC.

Glen Meakem
FREE MARKETS ONLINE INC.

James H. Clark
MYCFO INC.

Christos M. Cotsakos
E*TRADE GROUP INC.

[bankrollers]
Masayoshi Son
SOFTBANK CORP., JAPAN

Robert C. Kagle
BENCHMARK CAPITAL

Lawton W. Fitt
GOLDMAN SACHS & CO.

L. John Doerr
KLEINER PERKINS CAUFIELD & BYERS  

Bernard Arnault
LVMH MOET HENNESSY
LOUIS VUITTON  

[the visionaries]
Mary G. Meeker
MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER

John Hagel III
MCKINSEY & CO.

William Joy
SUN MICROSYSTEMS

[the architects]
Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
IBM CORP.

Pehong Chen
BROADVISION INC.

David C. Peterschmidt
INKTOMI INC.

Kevin J. O'Connor
DOUBLECLICK

Ellen M. Hancock
EXODUS COMMUNICATIONS

[the pace setters]
David S. Pottruck
CHARLES SCHWAB CORP.

John T. Chambers
CISCO SYSTEMS

Michael S. Dell
DELL COMPUTER



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