Khosla GP launches Bling Capital to help seed-stage startups build products

Ben Ling, a Khosla general partner until next month, is closing in on $60 million for his debut fund.

At Facebook, where he was the first-ever director of platform, they called him Bling. At YouTube the following year, they still called him Bling. At Google in 2010, they continued to call him Bling. Even at Khosla Ventures, where Ben Ling has been a general partner for the past five years, the nickname stuck.

It was only natural that Bling Capital would be the name of his debut venture capital fund, a $60 million seed-stage vehicle backed by Marissa Mayer, Nellie and Max Levchin, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.

We first spotted Bling Capital’s $60 million filing two months back; this week, TechCrunch sat down with Ling, who will officially depart from Khosla next month, to learn more about his investment strategy and why he’s venturing off on his own.

Bling Capital founder Ben Ling

Ling joined Khosla in 2013 to invest in consumer technology, internet, mobile, marketplace, SaaS and consumer health. In his tenure as a general partner and angel investor, he deployed capital to nine “unicorns,” including Lyft, Palantir, Square, Instacart and Zenefits. But he wanted the freedom to invest at a more rapid clip.

“Going out on my own allows me to be more agile; a sole GP can act a lot more quickly and speed matters a lot in seed,” Ling said. “And I love early-stage and product because I think there is a void in the marketplace — there’s a lot of money in seed but there’s not a lot of product builders in seed.”

Ling will invest between $750,000 and $1 million in one to two U.S. companies per month in exchange for 10 percent equity.

The firm is in the process of closing two funds: a $60 million flagship vehicle that will invest in consumer tech, internet and mobile, marketplace, data, fintech, SaaS and automation startups, and a $30 million opportunities fund, per an SEC filing, reserved for follow-on investments.

“It’s pretty much the things that a Google, a Facebook or an Amazon would be interested in,” Ling said, referring to where the fund will invest. “What’s it’s not is crypto, or rockets or enterprise, but it’s pretty much everything else when we think about the world of the internet.”

Given Ling’s experience, the fund will have a particular focus on product. Ling is the sole general partner of Bling, but he’s recruited a team of roughly 60 experts to work with his portfolio company executives as part of what Ling has dubbed his Product CouncilThat includes the heads of product at Square, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Nextdoor and Uber, who also are all investors in the fund.

Members of the Product Council will be available to consult with founders and may become advisors, investors or board members, if it’s a good match.

Khosla GP Ben Ling is raising his own VC fund and it’s called Bling Capital

Former Facebook exec Ben Ling has filed to raise $60 million for Bling Capital’s debut fund.

Ben Ling has filed to raise up to $60 million for a new fund called Bling Capital. Bling has long been Ling’s nickname both professionally and among friends.

The early Facebook executive is still a general partner at Khosla Ventures, the firm confirmed this morning. We’ve reached out to Ling for comment.

Ling was Facebook’s director of platform from 2007 to 2008. After stints at YouTube, Google and Badoo, where he was COO, Ling began his career in venture capital at Khosla in 2013.

Ling started out strong, leading a number of deals for the firm in 2013, including rounds for ThirdLove and Zenefits, but has since pulled back substantially, according to data from both Crunchbase and PitchBook. His most recent completed deal on record was a $5.5 million round for Bay Labs in December 2017. He joined the medical technology startup’s board as part of the deal.

Ling, who’s also on the boards of storytelling platform Wattpad, home security startup Canary and mobile commerce app Tapingo, hasn’t served as lead partner on any deals this year.

It’s worth noting that Khosla did participate in Plastiq’s $27 million Series C. No lead partner was disclosed, but because Ling has previously led the firm’s investments in the business expense platform and he serves on its board of directors, it’s likely he led the most recent deal as well.

In March, Khosla joined a growing list of firms targeting billion-dollar-plus funds to keep up with SoftBank’s enormous pool of capital when it filed to raise $1.4 billion across a pair of new VC funds.