Choosing Sides? John Doerr Leaves Amazon's Board Of Directors

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr, perhaps the most celebrated venture capitalist and certainly one of the most successful, will leave the Amazon board of directors this year.

Venture capitalists often try to stay on public company boards well after their investments have run their course. It’s a status thing, but it also puts them in a terrific position to help their younger portfolio companies. There’s no reason for Doerr to step down from the Amazon board of directors based on time commitments, which is what Amazon is saying. There’s just too much upside to being on the Amazon board of directors. And Doerr remains on other boards, including Google.

So what is the reason?

Our guess is that Doerr is leaving the Amazon board for the same reason Google CEO Eric Schmidt left the Apple board of directors in 2009.

Competition and conflicts of interest.

Google is increasingly competitive with Apple. But the company also competes with Amazon in a number of areas, particularly web services and big data. And down the road, Google may compete directly in other ways as well. Froogle was a flop, but don’t think Google doesn’t want a bigger chunk of ecommerce revenue from people who begin their product searches on their search engine. We’re betting Doerr had to choose between the two companies.

Or maybe Doerr just got sick of flying up to Seattle for the board meetings.