By Margie Wylie
Staff Writer, CNET NEWS.COM
John Doerr is blur. The lean venture capitalist virtually bounces off
the walls of his airy Palo Alto office, fielding faxes, phone calls and
email, wheeling, dealing, and schmoozing with fierce concentration.
Considered one of the best connected people in Silicon Valley, his
secret is simple: No one is beneath this Missourian's affable attention.
Maybe that's why the venture capitalist can put together crack start-up teams
in record time, a skill that brought him many hits including Compaq, Sun
and, most recently, Netscape.
As he sat down to talk with NEWS.COM in August, he was putting the finishing
touches on a presentation he would make to President Clinton. It worked.
Doerr was instrumental in getting Clinton out of the Silicon Valley doghouse
by securing the president's official opposition to
Proposition 211, a
California initiative that would let shareholders personally
sue the employees and officers of a corporation when profits don't live up
to expectations. It is an issue Doerr has a great personal, as well as
professional stake in opposing, since he sits on the boards of many of the
start-ups he's funded.
Doerr's lack of pretension and his obvious delight in his 5-year-old
daughter don't peg him as a Type-A thrill seeker. In the investment
world, though, that's exactly what he is. You see, he thinks that the
Internet isn't overhyped.
Doerr is an Internet optimist who puts his money where his mouth is,
investing in start-ups
like Netscape and recently starting a special fund to invest in companies just building applications and tools around Sun's Java Internet
NEWS.COM: What do you think of all of the venture capital being thrown at the
Doerr: You've got to look at the capital relative to the size of the
opportunity. Right? From 1980 to 1990, the PC was the biggest thing that
happened. The new companies in the PC industry went from zero to $100
billion a year in revenues. $100 billion! Just the newcomers. I'm not
talking about the Hewlett Packards and the IBMs, but the new PC companies.
That's almost the single largest creation of value or wealth that we've
ever seen on the planet. Regrettably, recreational drugs is bigger. The OPEC
oil cartel briefly surged to be more than that. But I'm trying to put it in
some kind of perspective. That's phenomenal.
Now, fast forward to today. Since June of last year, which was the
beginning of, not the PC revolution, but what I call the Net revolution, the
new Net companies--not the old ones, not the Suns, not the Microsofts, but
the new Net companies--are worth $20 billion in a year. I'm talking
about Yahoo!, Netscape, UUNet, everything involved with the Internet and the
Internet structure. I'm among the few crazies who say the Internet has not
been overhyped, that we are genuinely involved in something bigger than the
PC. If the PC was $100 billion, I think this is going to be at least three
times that. The Internet market will be three hundred billion in value.
The stock market is saying that these companies are worth all
these billions but that can change fast. Lately, we've even seen some
Well some have gone up and some have gone down. That's usually what
happens with stocks. But the real Internet companies, the ones that have
revenues and real growth prospects are doing just fine, thank you.
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