John Doerr joined the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers 25 years ago, but it didn’t take him nearly so long to cement his status as a legend in the industry.
Doerr’s career in tech began in 1974 at the chipmaker Intel, where he held roles in engineering, marketing, management and sales. He later founded a software company called Silicon Compilers and co-founded the once high-flying broadband cable Internet service @Home.
Doerr’s real impact on the tech industry has been at Kleiner, however.
When such companies as Intuit, Amazon, Netscape, and Google were still nascent and unproven, Doerr helped convince his partners at Kleiner to get behind them. (He still sits on the board of Google. He sat on the board of Amazon until 2010.)
Beginning roughly 10 years ago, Doerr also led the industry on a very public, highly ambitious march into clean tech investing.
While not all of those bets panned out– in fact, Kleiner had almost backed out of clean tech investing entirely by 2012, when it raised its 15th fund — some companies, including the now-publicly-traded industrial biotechnology outfit Amryis, were widely considered pioneers in their field.
More recently, Doerr has become a public advocate for greater diversity at Kleiner and for the broader startup ecosystem. The famed Ellen Pao gender discrimination case, which Kleiner won, may have prompted Doerr to speak up. But in its aftermath, Doerr has also conceded that the difficult case made Kleiner both more aware of “who we are and what we stand for” and “also raised our desire to do more.”
Of course, Doerr continues to actively invest in new companies. He recently led an investment in Flipagram, a startup that lets people create and share photo slide shows set to music. In a neat twist, as part of the funding, which Sequoia Capital co-led, Doerr joined the board alongside Sequoia’s Michael Moritz. It’s the first time the two have served as directors together since they joined the board of Google back in 1999.
We hope you’re as excited as we are to hear Doerr talk shop at Disrupt SF 2015, scheduled September 21-23 at San Francisco’s historic Pier 70. It’s a special, rare appearance, and we can’t wait to welcome him.
To hear Doerr and the other many other excellent speakers coming to Disrupt, you can purchase tickets, at special early-bird prices, right here.
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