Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Crib Sheet: John Doerr, the Kingmaker Behind the Bloom Box

John Doerr

With all systems go for the Bloom Box, the quarter-of-a-mil fuel device that's supposed to be the savior of the universe, here's a refresher course on the money man from venture capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers who helped make the dream into something starting to resemble reality.

  • The 58-year-old has a big fat contacts book. All the usual suspects, from Al Gore and Bono, thru' Gates, Google and Steve Jobs, are close to Doerr.
  • Green stuff and family makes him blub. On stage at a TED event a few years back, Doerr got a little more than moist around the eyes when he mentioned daughter Mary's role in his refocusing on ways to save the planet.
  • Doerr has pretty much turned from the Internet (although mobile Internet is, as he sees it, still a potential moneymaker) to green issues.
  • His success is as much about the marketing as it is the money. Sceptics call him a Venture Marketeer, but with $10 billion-plus in successful investments, how could it not be about the capital?
  • According to Doerr, a successful company is not about the people, but "its mix of experience and personalities, it's chemistry."
  • What John Doerr's Personals ad would say. Are you experienced? Techie-turned green team player seeks others for ten, maybe 15 years cohabitation. Must have drive, commitment, passion and know lots of similarly talented people. GSOH needed alongside ability to sell snow-colored gadgets to the inhabitants of Cupertino. Concise and snappy replies, please. No fatties.
  • He collects directorships like a Dungeon Master collects charisma points. Google, Sun, Netscape, Zazzle, Amazon, Friendster, Segway, Martha Stewart Living, and are all companies that enjoy or have enjoyed his expertise.
  • He's not above gigantic flops: The aforementioned loser cruiser known as the Segway was his biggest. And he's made mistakes. "The Internet is the greatest legal creation of wealth in history," just before the first dot-com boom went bust. And it took a phone call from Steve Jobs to make him truly appreciate just how the iPhone would revolutionize the modern Internet.
  • As well as skiing, hiking and cycling—and trampolining with his kids—Doerr is a prolific reader. Favorite tomes include Muhamma Yunnus' Banker to the Poor, Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, and How to Change the World, by David Bornstein. Surprisingly, no shoutouts to Dan Brown.
  • Doerr is not a prolific tweeter. Seven tweets in as many months, And although he has 1,100 fellow tweeters eager for his nuggets, he follows just one person, fellow KPCB man Bing Gordon—who's enjoying the Winter Olympics in Vancouver right now.