If he can do it ……

The person in this picture is John Doerr, a legendary venture capitalist, who was responsible for funding such icons like Google, Amazon, Intuit, Sun Microsystems to name a few.  Jeff Bezos says, “Doerr (and Kleiner) is the center of gravity in the Internet.”

Despite having such an illustrious pedigree, John is known to support the entrepreneurs all the way in addition to the money he has invested. And when I read about this particular incident as chronicled in the book “The New New Thing” by Michael Lewis, I was astounded and that is the reason for this post.

This book is about the way Jim Clark, the charismatic founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape went on to create a third enterprise called Healtheon with an ambitious objective of turning the US Health care system on its head.

This venture was partly funded by Kleiner Parkins (the venture firm of which John Doerr is a partner) and hence Healtheon became John’s baby.  When it was clear that this venture needed a Serious American Executive as its CEO, John stepped in and identified Mike Long as the right candidate.  Mike had built a computer services business called Continuum which he sold to Computer Sciences Corporation for $1.7 Billion.

We now come to the meat of this post.

Quote Michael Lewis (the book’s author)  “It did not occur to Mike Long that he wanted to work in Silicon Valley until John Doerr put it to him.  Over six months Doerr called Long ‘more than a hundred times‘ and talked him into leaving his stable, successful compnay called Computer Sciences and joining the internet revolution” Unquote. (The emphasis in bold is  mine)

It was not John’s brief to find the CEO but not only did he take it up on himself, he identified the right candidate and went after him in a ruthless manner hounding him over a period of 6 months so that he would capitulate and become the CEO of the venture that John backed.  That’s almost once in two days over a 180 day period and the best part of all this is that he didn’t have to do it at all.  John was by then a celebrated VC and very well known in the software industry.  That he did this kind of hounding is truly amazing!!

Here’s the contrast.  When we want something for ourselves and need the help of another person, we contact him/her and make the pitch.  We will followup once or twice or thrice but if the person is not willing to listen, we would give up and look at another way to solve the problem.  Not John!!

No wonder is he considered as  “one of Google’s best board members.” by Eric Schmidt, Chairman, Google Inc

John reminded me of Shri Nagi Reddy about whom I had written an  earlier post titled Inspiring Perseverance

I’m truly inspired by John’s doggedness and ‘never say die’ attitude!! What about you?

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7 Comments

  1. N Ramesh said,

    January 10, 2012 at 5:48 am

    No doubt interesting ! But this is how Great things happen in this world and Histories are created. And this is how manifestation occurs in this world of ours. And we have examples of similar kind in other societies of the world; like Robert Bruce and the Spider related instance which perked him to win back his lost kingdom. But at the same time there is also a not so inspiring one in the form of Mohammed Ghazni who came thirteen times to India for plundering the wealth of India !

    Thus Spake N Ra

    • badrirag said,

      January 10, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Dear Ramesh,

      Very closer home, we have the example of Sri Ramanuja who went to Thirukoshtiyur 18 times to get the benediction from his Acharyar Thirukoshtiyur Nambi.

  2. Fazal Shah said,

    January 10, 2012 at 5:50 am

    My Modern day Hero is Sri Sri RaviShankar. Its a pity that people see a flowing robe and beard. What His foundation does is led through his motivation and inspiration. His acolades were enought o get him nominated for Peace Prize many a time, yet, if you look at His cabinet, its’ full of unlocked tributes. He imbibes Human Values in Action. That’s the http://www.iahv.org Well there are many others too, including all I have met, every single being has been a source of inspiration. In the elevator there could be a conversation between strangers, that has important imformation for ourself growth, if only we learn the Art of Listening. Mediate and watch how this intuitive awareness evolves.
    Love,
    Fuzzy

    • badrirag said,

      January 10, 2012 at 7:56 am

      Dear Fazal, thanks for sharing the people who inspired you and your own perspective of Sri Sri.

  3. arvind said,

    January 10, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Very interesting and i think the reason for that kind perseverance
    is the concept of “Options” that exist in the mind…..

  4. Raghavan said,

    January 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    happened to visit courtesy Arvind. Nice blog that throws up vibrant thoughts. Thanks for sharing.


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