Posts Tagged ‘Arthur Rock’

What Arthur Rock Looked for in Entrepreneurs

July 14, 2009

Here’s a story published recently in Investor’s Business Daily about legendary investor Arthur Rock. One of the pioneers of the venture capital industry, Rock famously put together the deals to found Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, two of the most important startups in the history of Silicon Valley. Rock later invested in Apple, capping off his incredibly successful career. The investment landed him on the cover of Time magazine, a story that I discuss at length in my book. In fact, Rock was a student of Georges Doriot at Harvard Business School.

Rock and Doriot actually had many things in common. They were both investment bankers who became successful venture capitalists. They both understood the importance of technology. And they both believed that people, more than ideas or markets, were the most important ingredient of success in a business venture. Doriot’s famous saying was, “I’ll take an Grade A individual with a B idea over a Grade B individual with an A idea.”

The writer Reinhardt Krause interviewed me for the profile and kindly included a quote from me in the story. It’s an interesting profile that tries to explain Rock’s investing philosophy. Among the most important traits Rock looked for in an entrepreneur? Intellectual honesty. Rock knew that a new business would face many challenges and that in order to succeed entrepreneurs needed to be honest about the state of their business. Or as Rock rhetorically asked: “Do they see things the way they are, and not they way they want them to be?”

View this document on Scribd

Capitalism to the Rescue: VCs Land the Times Magazine Cover

October 5, 2008

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.