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VV Show #23 - Randy Komisar of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

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Randy Komisar

It’s not easy to stand out at Kleiner Perkins, one of the most prestigious venture capital shops in Silicon Valley that counts Google in its portfolio. Though Randy Komisar joined the firm just this year, it’s clear he’s not a typical venture capitalist. He once was a lawyer, but openly admits to hating being a lawyer and has been running from the law (well, from the practice of law) for most of his career. He’s played top roles at Claris Corporation, LucasArts Entertainment and TiVo. Now he’s ready to build a legacy at Kleiner Perkins.

Show notes:

1:50 Started career as a lawyer

  • “Where were you 20 years ago?”
  • “I was a rock promoter.”
  • “I went to law school on the misnotion that I needed to become a professional at something.”
  • Went to Harvard Law School.
  • "I was pretty miserable."

3:50 Unbecoming a lawyer
  • “Nobody would confuse me with a lawyer today.”
  • Got a job at Apple.
  • Formed Claris Corporation.
  • Was the CEO at Lucas Arts.

7:30 Winning in Silicon Valley

9:10 Entrepreneurship a profession?

  • “If you look at the economy as a missile, we’re at the tip of a missile in creating new ideas and new opportunities on a global basis.”
  • “If you’re a young entrepreneur and you need to tell your parents what you’re doing, I think it’s great to explain that it’s a profession.”

10:35 Becoming a VC
  • “The opportunities to make a difference were happening so fast and furiously, that I was loath to be committed and stuck in any single one of them. I wanted to be able to work across a portfolio of ideas.”

11:25 “Venture management model”
  • Bringing that model to Kleiner Perkins.
  • “This gave be a sense of being committed and engaged in creating a legacy.”

13:50 Making a mark

14:35 Valuations

  • “The market gets to determine what the value is.”
  • “I know a lot of venture capitalists who say they add a lot of value, and don’t.”
  • “Don’t come to Kleiner Perkins for money. We’re expensive money.”

16:20 Deciding to back a company

17:30 What Randy’s done so far

  • “Almost everything I’m doing is stealth.”
  • Working with companies in these areas: digital divide, mobile voice and mashup communities.
  • Co-sponsor of PodShow investment.

19:14 Wikipedia scandal with Adam Curry
  • “It’s a disappointment.”
  • “I thought that the response that Wikipedia had was fair, in the sense that if you’re going to create open communities you’re going to have to incur some inefficiencies in the process.”

20:10 Choosing a profession
  • “I think that you should question authority.”
  • “The shame of it is when smart people conform to conventional expectations and miss out on the opportunities to live a creative life.”

Official bio:

Randy Komisar joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2005 as a partner. For several years prior Randy has partnered with entrepreneurs creating businesses with leading edge technologies.

He was a co-founder of Claris Corporation, served as CEO for LucasArts Entertainment and Crystal Dynamics, and acted as a "virtual CEO" for such companies as WebTV, Mirra and GlobalGiving. He was a founding Director of TiVo where he is currently chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee. Earlier Randy served as CFO of GO Corporation and Senior Counsel for Apple Computer, following a private practice in Technology Law.

Randy holds a BA in Economics from Brown University and a JD from Harvard Law School. He is a Consulting Professor of Entrepreneurship at Stanford University and author of the best-selling book The Monk and the Riddle, as well as several articles on leadership and entrepreneurship. Randy frequently speaks here and abroad on such topics.

Posted by Greg Galant on Dec 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

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Nice job Greg! I love Randy Komisar. Recently read Monk and the Riddle in fact. I am psyched to listen to this show.

Posted by: Eric Olson at December 15, 2005 11:37 PM

Hey Greg - did you get a chance to ask Randy about some of Joel's(Spolsky) (and Paul's(Graham)) thoughts on venture capital?

Posted by: Alex at December 28, 2005 9:05 AM

Alex, Thanks for your comment. I wanted to ask him but I simply did not have enough time. I'll try to ask the next VC that comes on the show.

Posted by: Greg Galant at December 28, 2005 2:20 PM

I thought the whole discussion about whether entrepreneurs are professionals was off-base. Your parents don't care about professional standing, though that's what they may call it. What they care about is a large, stable income with a high expectation of full-time employment. In that sense, entrepreneurs have never been and will never be professionals. Entrenepreneurship will always be risky, by definition.

However, doctors and lawyers are slowly losing the stability they've enjoyed, just as software programmers already have. I recently read about it being significantly cheaper for startups to outsource their patent applications to India rather than use local patent lawyers. This will happen to all the information professions, just as free trade revolutionized where manufacturing took place. Further, there are large efficiencies still to be harvested from computer automation or assistance. Doctors and lawyers will lose whatever stability they had as the internet allows global and merciless competition into their closed domains.

Posted by: Ajay at December 28, 2005 5:27 PM

He sounds like a used car salesman, albeit a well-spoken one.

Posted by: Rob at December 29, 2005 8:26 PM

Great stuff all the way...keep it up! So when will we have the next podcast? Also waiting for the results of the Entrenepreneur award...when will that be out?

Posted by: Javed at January 15, 2006 10:10 AM

Javed, Glad your enjoying it! We've got some amazing guests coming up for you. We're going to release our next show early this week. That show will include some more information about the time line for the Venture Voice Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Posted by: Greg Galant at January 15, 2006 1:04 PM

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