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Pockets run deep for Java

If you are a Java developer, some industry heavyweights might be willing to lend you a big helping hand.

If you are a Java developer, some industry heavyweights might be willing to lend you a big helping hand.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which specializes in raising capital for high-tech start-ups, today will announce the closing of a $100 million fund for companies developing Java and related Internet technologies.

The fund's corporate partners--a total of ten--span the tech spectrum from internet-working giant Cisco Systems to hardware leaders Compaq Computer and IBM; from software makers Netscape Communications and Oracle to cable companies Comcast and Tele-Communications Incorporated.

"This is highly unusual for so many corporations to come together like this," said John Doerr, general partner at Kleiner Perkins. "I have never seen a technology have as much interest as Java."

Doerr said he expects the Java Fund to invest in about 25 companies over the next four years. He emphasized that calling the venture Java Fund didn't imply that companies working with ActiveX would be excluded from funding because the fund is not about promoting Java against Microsoft and its offerings. Microsoft was approached about participating in the Java Fund, Doerr said, "but they have never gotten involved with venture captial."

First to benefit from the fund are Marimba, founded by former members of Sun Microsystems' original Java development team, Calico Technology, and Active Software, which received backing from Kleiner Perkins back in January, according to Paul Koenig, Active's vice president of marketing.

Calico, which develops sales force automation and other electronic commerce applications, first received $4 million from the fund in April of 1995 without specific targeting of Java development.

"At the point that we got the funding the money wasn't Java-specific. The interest in Java has blossomed relatively recently," said Bill Paseman, chairman and vice president of research and development. "We support stuff that ends up being ActiveX-based and Java-based. I'm a developer caught in the middle. It would be nice to write stuff just for one."

The software industry has become the darling of the venture capital world in 1996, as more VC money flowed to software companies than to any other sector in the first two quarters of 1996, according to the Coopers & Lybrand Money Tree survey.

In the first quarter, 17 percent of all venture capital, estimated at $2.3 billion, went to software companies. That figure dropped to 14 percent in the second quarter but still ranked as the highest percentage of the record $3 billion total invested across all sectors.