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When did you come to Silicon Valley?
I came to Silicon Valley in 1975 with no job and no place to live. I wanted to start a company with friends, just like my Dad (and hero) Lou Doerr. I tried to get an internship with a VC firm. And well, they all turned me down. One of them told me about Intel, a new chip company. So I cold called and landed a job there just as they invented the 8-bit microchip.
How did you join Kleiner Perkins?
Five years later I joined Kleiner Perkins. They promised to back me in my own startup - and did so, twice. I co-founded Silicon Compilers for chip design and @Home for broadband Internet.
Where have we been? And where are we going?
It seems every dozen years we witness magical, ever-exponentially larger waves of innovation. The first was in the early 80’s, as the microchip (and Moore’s Law) enabled the new wave of personal computing (Apple, Compaq, Lotus, Microsoft). The second wave started in 1994: the Internet (Metcalfe’s Law, Netscape, Amazon, Google). The third in 2007 was the smartphone (Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, and the iFund) and the cloud wave (AWS).
These three monster waves of innovation were seismic, tectonic shifts in computing and communications. We are now crashing into the fourth wave - AI. It is building on and will surpass the others.
What do you look for in entrepreneurs?
What matters most is their passion -- their focus on serving a large, unmet market need with an outstanding team and disruptive innovation. Their commitment to technical excellence, and obsessing on customers (not competition). Their pursuit of reasonable financings, but unreasonable, audacious goals. Their sense of urgency. Their ambition, vision, confidence and humility in putting their team first. They must be missionaries, not mercenaries.
How do you spend your time?
Sometimes I am asked, “Are you still investing?” The answer is, yes. Everyday, my partners and I are hustling to find, fund and accelerate the success of outstanding entrepreneurs -- backed first by Kleiner Perkins or by my family funds.
Why did you write Measure What Matters?
43 years ago, Andy Grove shared the single most important lesson of my career with me. He said, “John, it almost doesn’t matter what you know…it’s execution that matters most.” Andy invented a powerful system to drive execution called Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs.
For years I’ve spread the gospel of Andy Grove with a short slide presentation about goals and OKRs to organizations large and small. Measure What Matters is my chance to now do the subject justice.
My hope is that people find OKRs useful (and fun!). The benefits of OKRs are profound. Honestly, we need clear and compelling goals now more than ever before. The right goals. For the right reasons.
Outside of investing, what matters most to you?
My family matters the most. And I love working with social and policy entrepreneurs who are transforming healthcare, fighting the climate crisis, improving public education and combating global poverty.