Actor and Celebrity Rehab alum Gary Busey turns 65 today. Producer Robert Evans turns 79. Comedian Richard Lewis is turning 62. Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America, is turning 42. Top Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr is 57. Web entrepreneur Scott Heiferman is 37. Colin Hay of Men at Work is 56. Race car driver Jeff Burton turns 42. Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter is turning 52. And "Pussycat Doll" Nicole Scherzinger celebrates her 31st birthday today.
At yesterday's Web 2.0 Summit, Kleiner Perkins whiz John Doerr — a man so successful he can get away with wearing the same three ties for ten years — told attendees that Barack Obama should skip over Googlers Eric Schmidt and Vint Cerf, and instead hire Kleiner Perkins partner and Sun co-founder Bill Joy as his national chief technology officer. Obama's job description was focused more on counter-terrorism intelligence and IT supremacy. Doerr thinks that's misguided: “The most important thing he's got to do is kick-start a huge amount of research and innovation in energy." Energy tech is Doerr's current focus at Kleiner, of course. But it's unclear to me whether Joy is now a leader or a dilettante on the topic. Doerr also suggested the U.S. "staple a green card to the diploma" to keep foreign-born engineering students from going back home after graduation. Throw in a fixed-rate mortgage for gossip bloggers, and I'll endorse the whole package.
Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist John Doerr is the guy everyone vaguely remembers as being important a decade ago but can't recall anything he's funded recently besides Friendster. Even so, he's full of advice for entrepreneurs — so full of advice that his 10 tips for startups spilled over to 11. The 11th tip: "Overcommunicate with everyone -– employees, investors, partners and particularly customers. Don’t sugar coat things, communicate your resolve." Where have we heard that before?It just confirms the notion that Doerr hasn't been paying attention. Anyone who's been reading Robert Scoble's blog knows about the virtues of oversharing. It makes for great entertainment. But if there's any correlation between checking FriendFeed every 15 seconds and business success, it's lost to us. Next time, John, just mention your daughter and cry a lot. It worked wonders at TED last year.
The company that funded Netscape, Google and Genentech is now focusing on electric cars, solar power and biofuels. New York Times contributor Jon Gertner has been meeting with Kleiner partners since last year. His 8,000-word feature in Sunday's paper goes deep on details of a few KPCB investments such as Ausra. But it spends a lot of time framing the story for non-techies outside the Valley. Here's the Sand Hill Road edit:
Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr, ever the indulgent father, has stopped showering tears on his 17-year-old daughter Mary, and switched to cash instead. Mary Doerr's nonprofit, Inconvienient Youth, is a Ning-based social network that's supposed to make Al Gore's global warming presentation more "teen-friendly," according to VentureBeat.We're all for not turning our atmosphere into an oven, but adolescent admonishments will swiftly grow even more wearisome than Gore's original. Children are now encouraged to scold their parents for crimes against the climate — such as using your dryer on a warm August day — with "Climate Crime Cards." Annoying, yes. But easily remedied. Just remind the offspring that bringing them into life increased the family's carbon-dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 round-trip flights between London and New York. Inconvenient youth, indeed.
In the latest issue of Fortune, a feature about venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins pointed out that the company has yet to make any investments in Web 2.0. The firm which was an early investor in Google has not been so bullish on the likes of Facebook. (The investment in Friendster couldn't have helped.) Instead, it has continued to focus on biotech on the one hand and changed focus to cleantech on the other. Reporter Adam Lashinsky noted that KP didn't even send a representative to the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference this year, and relays the bad buzz from Carlsbad:
Speaking to young graduates, including eight new Amazon.com hires, at Carnegie Mellon University's commencement ceremonies on Sunday, Jeff Bezos admitted that he's a nerd who does "a mean interpretation of Captain Picard," but is not a sexless monk. That classification was suggested by Amazon board member John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins. Citing Bezos as an example, Doerr said the perfect founder "is undistracted because he has no sex life." Bezos intends to remind the sex-negative venture capitalist of his many children at Amazon's next board meeting. John, if you need a retort, just exclaim how "resourceful" Mackenzie Bezos is.
After reading our take on VC blogger Fred Wilson's advice that entrepreneurs need to learn how to "ask for the order," Persai cofounder Ted Dziuba commented: "Methinks Fred Wilson doth blog too much." We disagree, if only because Wilson is such a fruitful source. But at a venture capital conference in San Francisco last week, Sequoia Capital's Michael Moritz seemed to second the notion. "There's a lot of hot air and arrogance in the business that we all would be better off without," Moritz told the conference crowd. Moritz said he disapproved of "useless pontificating in front of entrepreneurs working harder than we are." Kleiner Perkins VC John Doerr concurred: "At Kleiner, we're trying to watch our language." This from the guy who said the Internet was underhyped — and then invested in Friendster. (Photo by b_d_solis)
LiveJournal founder Brad Fitzpatrick is a prankster, as evidenced by his Halloween costume last year, when the new Googler dressed up as Facebook to mock his coworkers' fears of the social network. I'm told that in Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good, Sarah Lacy's new book about Web 2.0, there's an anecdote about Fitzpatrick submitting an expense report — successfully! — for "hookers and blow" when he worked at blog software startup Six Apart. That was likely a reference to the early days of LiveJournal, when users made ridiculous accusations that Fitzpatrick was spending money meant for servers and bandwidth on "hookers and blow." We'd love to hear more, but alas, Fitzpatrick only got 8 out of 294 pages, according to the book's index. Here's the page for "D" through "F":
The Castilleja School, a posh private prep school for girls in Palo Alto with an annual tuition of $29,305, received a $1 million from the Benificus foundation, which lists John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins as president and his wife, Ann Howland Doerr, as vice president and secretary. The gift was part of the school's fundraising efforts, and granted the foundation the right to name the program chair of the math department after the couple. In what I'm sure is just a coincidence, the Doerr's daughter, Mary Doerr, is set to graduate with the class of 2009. Don't work too hard, young Mary — our tipster figures you'll do quite well on your report cards, as long as you don't take leadership lessons from Jimmy Wales, who recently lectured at the school. For parents a little harder on their luck, the cost to rename the computer lab is a mere $200,000.
Former U.S. vice president Al Gore will chair a new $683 million Climate Solutions Fund from Generation Investment Management. The money will be used to seed public and private companies in long-term investments in carbon markets, renewable energy and cleaner fossil fuel use. Generation includes Gore's BFF John Doerr, the Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist, on its advisory board, and has partnered with Doerr's firm in the past. Doerr and Gore are currently raising another $400 million late-stage investment fund for Kleiner. Preaching climate-change end-times sermons can get the creative-capitalist congregation to dig deep when the collection plate comes around.
John Doerr and Al Gore have been taking their pitch for a new $400 million environment-friendly venture fund to prospective limited partners, and have already hired a veteran investment manager from Goldman Sachs to run it. This fund, which would invest in late-stage — that is, larger — clean energy and carbon reduction projects, comes in addition to the money already reserved for cleantech in KP's $600 million early-stage investment warchest. Helping to scale electric car manufacturing comes to mind — KP just threw some money at Norway's Think Global. And existing ethanol distillers could also benefit. After all, that kind of money would certainly buy a whole lot of Brazilian slave labor. (Photo by AP/Graham Hughes)
At Apple's iPhone SDK announcement today, Steve Jobs had "one more thing..." to reveal. Venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins came onstage to announce a $100,000,000 "iFund" to help "young developers with funding." This is a huge amount of money for developers, but no details on how it will be invested or allocated. Compare this to the $10 million Android programming contest that Google introduced with its Android mobile phone platform. Thanks to the dedicated gadget-hounds at Gizmodo for the pic and info.
Forbes has released its Midas List of top venture capitalists. New York-based investors make up 2 percent of the list, and that has the writers at Silicon Alley Insider confused. But since it's the same confusion that led Henry Blodget, the disgraced tech-stock analyst, to found the tech blog in the first place, one can hardly blame them.
Anyone remember "Gore and Doerr"? That was Silicon Valley's dream presidential ticket in the late '90s, long before the Supreme Court nixed Al Gore's presidential career and John Doerr, the Kleiner Perkins VC, torpedoed his own golden reputation by missing out on all the hot Internet companies of this millennium. Gore and Doerr are teaming up again, with Gore joining Kleiner Perkins as a partner specializing in greentech startups. Finally, he has a real excuse for buying that condo in San Francisco's St. Regis tower: His previous Valley gigs, as an Apple board member and a senior advisor to Google, were thoroughly part-time, if incredibly lucrative.
Can you believe that last week's Web 2.0 Summit was the fourth such conference? Its humble beginnings were barely in evidence, as venture capitalists, corporate biz-dev types, and M&A scouts seemed to outnumber the startup founders they were trying to hunt down. Friday afternoon was a return to the old school, however, with Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield and LiveJournal founder Brad Fitzpatrick among the presenters. Sadly, John Doerr, the expert inflater of the first dotcom bubble, did not cry. Check the photo gallery for the conference's final, terrifying orgy of schmoozing. Some participants were so exhausted that, by the closing cocktail party, they were making deals with their eyes closed.
WEB 2.0 SUMMIT — Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr is on stage, getting interviewed by conference organizer John Battelle. His explanation for why he invested in Google? Larry and Sergey were "really nerdy" and had no social lives. There's something to that. Does that mean Doerr will start selling his still-extensive Google holdings, now that Sergey seems to be comfortable taking the night off? We can only imagine what he thinks about anyone prone to playing the John Doerr drinking game.