You’re an expert on team building—what ingredients make them work?
There’s often that rare and special moment which occurs when watching a sports team in formation—when the perfect play comes together that changes the trajectory of the game with a decisive outcome. Starting with that perfect pass or daring interception or perhaps a recovery from a dropped ball the team comes together, as one, to win.
The same principle applies in building business teams. You need multiple elements for success: the individual star, the player/coach to lead and make the assist or the team gel—all “A players” in their own right, all vital to winning. “Getting the right people in the right seats on the bus,” as the business writer Jim Collins puts it. Of critical importance is having a leader who can set a vision and inspire the team to follow. And assembling world-class talent at every level of the company by creating a results-oriented culture and an environment ingrained by respect, integrity and curiosity that can adapt to fast-paced change.
How did you become so interested in building teams?
Like many people, I learned many of my foundational lessons from playing competitive team sports—in my case, lacrosse. Sports also taught me about the power of people, which has become my passion for two decades. I am a relentless pursuer of talent, always searching for people who can come together at the right time to build and create enduring companies. I invest in people and relationships for the long term—whether as part of a team, a board or part of our network—to help build and grow our companies as having the right relationships at the right time is a vital component for business success.
In addition to providing companies with advice on building teams, you lead the firm’s Fellows program for current students. What does that involve?
I personally benefited from having great summer internships, so it was very important to me that we focus on the “Next Gen” talent and support them on their career journey. The Kleiner Perkins Fellows program pairs engineering, design and product students with our portfolio companies. The alumni of this program—over 400 and counting—work in important roles in our portfolio companies and in key companies in the technology ecosystem. We have worked really hard on diversity from day one of the program, and this year for the first time over 50 percent of participants are women. We hope that the program will help to build a pipeline of diverse talent for the future.
Who in the Valley has inspired your approach to finding talent?
During my time at Kleiner Perkins, I have had the privilege of watching some remarkable founders up close: Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google (with the incredible addition of Eric Schmidt and Omid Kordestani), Jeff Bezos at Amazon and Daniel Ek at Spotify. What sets them apart in addition to their vision is their belief in the importance of people. And their relentless commitment to excellence.