Silicon Valley VC legend dies

Eugene Kleiner dies at 80. He co-founded Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and helped build it into an internationally known venture firm that funded Sun Microsystems, Amazon and others.

Eugene Kleiner, a pioneer of venture capital in Silicon Valley and co-founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has died at the age of 80.

Kleiner, who passed away at his Los Altos Hills, Calif., home on Thursday, co-founded the firm in 1972 with Tom Perkins and helped build it into an internationally known concern that funded such companies as Compaq Computer, Sun Microsystems and Amazon.com. Kleiner's family gave word of his death on Monday.

In addition to his role as a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Kleiner was also known as a member of the "Fairchild Eight"--the group that founded Fairchild Semiconductor. The chipmaker was one of the first to successfully manufacture a silicon-based transistor.

At the time of his death, Kleiner served as a "partner emeritus" at Kleiner Perkins.

"Eugene Kleiner was a great pioneer of Silicon Valley?and his contribution to finance and technology were enormous. He will be sorely missed," read a statement released Tuesday by the firm.

Memorial services will be held at the Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills on Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.

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