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Brother From Another Planet

Nov
22
2004

Did you happen to catch the premier of KPCB-TV?
It ran last week on Charlie Rose. Taped at Google (a spectacularly successful Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers investment), it was a bunch of tech folks sitting around talking to Rose about the future.
It was quite the BS session. There wasn’t a lot of news for anyone who’s been rolling around Silicon Valley for the past few years and who understands that on this coast, venture capital firms are what law firms are in New York or Washington: Places where the smart and political savvy work so they can pool their resources and address books. But for New Yorkers, this was probably revolutionary stuff. They’re still alive! My God! Honey, plug in the TiVo! The future — it’s here!


KPCB partners John Doerr and Brook Byers told their pal Charlie that technology’s potential is only just becoming truly apparent. There is more to come in software and IT and in healthcare and biotech. Cisco, Intel and HP CEOs John Chambers, Carly Fiorina and Paul Otellini said similar things, although not at the same time. So did Electronic Arts (a KP investment) CEO Bing Gordon, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Yahoo CEO Terry Semel (not a KP investment but hey, you can’t win ‘em all) Monster.com CEO Jeff Taylor who had the fortunate misfortune to be put on stage with Doerr and his good friend Bill Joy (co-founder of Sun, a certifiable genius and a walking, breaking KP-investment), Prop.71 proponent Robert Klein (which was sort of a KP investment since the firm put up so much cash and will reap the rewards) Genentech (a KP investment) executive Susan Desmond-Hellman and John Hennessy, President of Stanford University (a KP partner several times over) repeated the ideas of the day.
Here’s the condensed version: The government needs to get more involved in education and deployment of high-speed Internet connections but less involved in how companies treat stock options and keeping workers out of the U.S. Rose didn’t mention it but it’s very much in keeping with the interview he did with author Richard Florida several months ago.
Here’s what it means: Silicon Valley is back. It’s power brokers – look at that list again, that’s a bunch of people who can get things done, quickly – went on Rose’s show to remind their counterparts on the East Coast that they still matter. The Charlie Rose Show is very important for a very specific and very small club many of whom are represented on the donor/supporter list that opens the credits. It’s the East Coast power structure’s David Letterman.
This isn’t the first time KP has pulled this trick; they clearly have the ear of one of Rose’s bookers. A few weeks ago Jonathan Abrams, founder of Friendster.com, showed up on Rose’s show to talk about social networking. The sardonic highlight came when Rose earnestly asked Abrams, who had been booted to chairman (the Silicon Valley post for guys who have worked hard but don’t want to any more) if he was in his company “for the long-haul.” That’s the polite way of asking if he’s going to keep his stock, not dump it after the IPO, like those other guys. Abrams kind of smiled and said, yeah, of course.
But folks in the know better. Once you’re backed by KP, the long-haul is over. You can cash out any time you want, you can even leave. Rose, of course, is still thinking like an East Coast guy whose money is put in the public stock market. With that question he showed that – like most folks in the East – he doesn’t understand the private equity game as it’s played by venture capitalists and start-ups. The stock market is the end – not the beginning.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:42 AM | Permalink

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