In the early days of Apple, Steve Jobs was asked what he was hoping to accomplish by starting a company. And his answer was, "I want to make a dent in the universe."
I’ve spent my whole life being inspired by people who make a dent in the universe. Most of my career has been working with and backing those people, and philanthropically I try to make my own small dent, as well.
I’m interested in brilliant founders cracking hard problems to address intense market pain points.
I’m always looking for innovative uses of technology to solve age-old problems, whether that’s in IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, consumer finance, or precision medicine.
For me, it’s about the people. It's not the folks with the résumés. It's not necessarily the folks with the experience. It's that DNA - scrappiness, sharp, frugal, obsessively driven, inquisitive, never satisfied.
Great founders are fixed on thrilling customers. They're focused on metrics, and are always improving and iterating. They are not distracted by ego or title envy.
We’re at the most disruptive point in 20 years in IT infrastructure because the core set of enabling technologies are hitting their exponential inflection point all at the same time.
The cost and power of commodity computing is making obsolete a whole generation of hardware companies, the world's switching from hardware to software, and it's causing a massive upheaval of hundreds of billions of market cap over the next 10 years. And that's hugely interesting.
I grew up hiking, climbing, hunting with my dad in the freezing cold mountains of Maine. He was an outdoorsman, and that was always inspirational.
When I came out here into the high-paced technology whirlwind of Silicon Valley, I missed that wilderness element. And that's what led me to discover Montana. Now I spend as much time there as I can.
It’s a relief valve, being out in the woods or on the trail. It’s the perfect counterbalance to my day job.
Cybersecurity has rapidly become one of the most important issues in technology. It's an escalating arms race with no end in site. The attacks are always going to get more sophisticated, and the defense will always have to get more sophisticated.
On the bio side — precision medicine, bioinformatics, especially around oncology — we’re seeing for the first time the rate of discovery going almost vertical, due to the dramatic drop in the cost of sequencing. It was $1 billion 10 years ago; it’ll be approaching $100 very soon.
The convergence of electrical engineering and computer science and biology, adding data to all the wet stuff, is causing this explosive level of innovation and discovery — of new approaches to solving fundamental human problems like cancer and disease and longevity.
I always look for extreme challenges. The most rewarding thing for me, both personally and with entrepreneurs, is to tackle something extremely difficult and conquer it.
I joined Sequoia after doing a startup we’d funded. I was an early employee, helped design the product and head engineering, and after we were acquired Sequoia brought me on in '96.
Got off to a fast start. I was here a week, two weeks. Didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I thought, "Well, I’m not really sure what a venture capitalist does, but I know how to create great products.” Because that's what I’d done in networking.
So I reconnected with a good friend of mine, who had always been a brilliant idea guy. We met and he starts to scribble up on the board his latest idea....which we then seed funded with $300k. That idea turned into Redback Networks.
As a board member I’ve now helped over 50 founding teams get their early-stage startups off the ground.
I love helping people solve hard problems — whether it's technology entrepreneurs trying to disrupt industries, or a Rocky Mountain community desperate for search-and-rescue resources or facing major land conversation challenges. Or any other problem where creativity and philanthropy could be the solution.