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Jason Doren is Chief Administrative Officer & General Counsel at Kleiner Perkins where he manages the firm's day-to-day operations and leads the firm's legal affairs.
What impact has your family had on you professionally?
I was born and raised in Chicago and my family was a big influence on me. My father was an industrial engineer and worked tirelessly, constantly on the road for his job, and he left an indelible impression about the importance of hard work. I got a taste for being an entrepreneur from my mother who started an advertising agency, and my brother who has a wine distribution business and makes his own wine. It's also been fun having someone in the family who knows a thing or two about good wine.
You're a pilot. I guess you like taking risks?
I've always been fascinated by airplanes. It's not so much the risk I love but the sense of freedom you feel when you're flying a plane. That said, risk is something that flying and venture capital have in common and flying has helped me bring discipline - from things like pre-flight check-lists and required protocols that create structure and order - to my work. I'm better in business as a result of flying.
Early on in your legal career you made a big change that put you on a different trajectory. What happened?
When I first graduated from law school, I became a trial lawyer and did that for several years until I got weary of the endless haggling over evidence and documents. As I thought about what came next, I was inspired by a friend who had started an internet company that went public, and realized I wanted to work in technology and have a real impact on the world. I re-tooled my practice and went to work for a law firm in Silicon Valley that specialized in tech and venture capital. I wouldn't be here today without that change in direction.
What's an enduring take-away from your time at SVB?
One of many things I was fortunate enough to do at SVB was government affairs, which became a focus as new banking regulations came into effect. SVB's rapid growth meant it was about to be regulated the same way as banks twenty times its size. That made no sense and would have been a major drag on funding for small businesses. We played a big role in amending the law so that mid-sized banks wouldn't be subject to the same compliance requirements as the largest banks. What I learned from this experience was the importance of relationships to effect change. We were successful because we worked hard to establish and nurture trusted, open relationships with legislators and regulators that laid the foundation to amend the law.
What attracted you to Kleiner Perkins?
This is one of the most storied, iconic brands in business. At the same time, the firm is embarking on an exciting new chapter of its history where it returns to an exclusive focus on early-stage investing. It's the best of both worlds — history and track record together with a new team looking to make its own stamp on history.