Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick and Li Ka-Shing

You may have missed this while dive-bombing the President’s Day sales, but a San Francisco startup called Hampton Creek just announced a $23 million funding round led by Asia’s richest man. Li Ka-Shing has poured millions into Spotify, Tout, pre-IPO Facebook and pre-Apple Siri, but Hampton Creek doesn’t make consumer technology; instead, it’s whipped up a way to make eggs without chickens. Rendering moot, perhaps, that ancient riddle of which came first.

Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick and Li Ka-Shing

Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick with Li Ka-Shing, who apparently gave him the $23 million in a red lai see envelope. Just kiddin’.

Li was hardly alone in the funding round, Hampton Creek’s second: Among the veritable who’s who were Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, IronPort co-founder Scott Banister, financier Tom Steyer, Khosla Ventures and Ali and Hadi Partovi, twins whose collective hits include early bets on Zappos and Facebook.

“This has the capacity to change culture,” said Kanyi Maqubela of Collaborative Fund, yet another investor in the round. (His firm, incidentally, invests the personal fortunes of folks like YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, street artist Shepard Fairey and music superstar Pharrell Williams).

Magubela says those hifalutin clients are willing to wait years for that cultural shift, but he’s confident the investment in Hampton Creek will produce more than a social do-gooder return. Citing the size and inefficiency of the poultry market, he told me, “This is more than $1 billion worth of market opportunity, and I don’t say that very often.”

Elsewhere Tuesday:

• San Jose cloud security startup Elastica came out of stealth mode with a $6.3 million Series A from Mayfield fund and an all-star cast of advisors including Cloudera CEO Tom Reilly and Rayid Ghani, chief scientist for the Obama 2012 campaign. (Mayfield, incidentally, is just about to announce a new, $108 million investment fund in India, but you can see the documents here today.)

• And UrbanSitter, which helps parents find babysitters (and vice-versa) via their social networks, announced a $15 million Series B. Interestingly, two of the venture firms in the deal — DBL Investors and Aspect Ventures — are female-led; one might read that as a statement on the ways male and female VCs size up a market opportunity.

Peter Delevett Peter Delevett (184 Posts)

Peter Delevett covers startups and venture capital for the San Jose Mercury News. He's been a journalist in Silicon Valley since the dot-com daze.