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Can Innovation Be Taught? A New Mentorship Program Aims To Do Just That

"Genius may be born, but innovation can be learned," says Bing Gordon, chief product officer at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Bing Gordon

[Image: Flickr user Ben Stanfield]

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers already runs fellows programs to train new grads in engineering, design, and product management, but the venture capital firm announced Wednesday it is launching a new program to mentor entrepreneurs. KPCB ProductWorks will be headed by general partner Bing Gordon, newly named the firm's chief product officer.

"Genius may be born, but innovation can be learned," Gordon wrote in a blog post announcing the program. Though various parts of a company can be outsourced—including logistics, engineering, and revenue generation—Gordon said the same can't be said of product management. "Startups need founders with a product focus—and they need to figure out how to spread a product-focused mindset throughout the team to keep the company growing," he added.

ProductWorks will also tap general partner Mike Abbott, Twitter's former vice president of engineering; partner Megan Quinn, who previously headed product at Square; and incoming design partner John Maeda. Maeda announced last week he is leaving his post as president of the Rhode Island School of Design for Silicon Valley, joining Kleiner Perkins in the new year. In addition to providing design, engineering, and product guidance to entrepreneurs, the firm's fellows will also make up a pool of talent to help startup founders build out their teams.

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