The cachet of venture capitalists must be rising if the The New York Times magazine puts them on the cover. In “The New New Economy” writer Jon Gertner profiles venture capital’s preeminent firm Kleiner Perkins and its audacious bet on developing green energy technologies.
It presents a fine overview of a subject written for a mainstream audience. Gernter does a nice job demystifying some of the inner-working of the VC biz and introducing us to a number of the Kleiner-backed companies. But if you are a Valley watcher, there isn’t anything all that surprising in the story.
I think this is the first time in which the Times mag put a VC on the cover, though I’m not 100% sure. In my book, I discovered a Time magazine cover from 1984, “Cashing in Big: The Men Who Make the Killings,” featuring legendary VC investor Arthur Rock.
Contrast Gertner’ cover with Adam Lashinsky’s “Kleiner Bets the Farm” feature that ran in the July issue of Fortune magazine. I think Lashinsky’s tale, though briefer, offers a more sophisticated take emphasizing the extreme riskiness of Kleiner’s all-in green energy bet, while also perceptively pointing that Kleiner, the firm that backed Netscape (the company that sparked the Internet revolution) has largely turned its attention and resources away from the Internet.