“We invested a billion dollars in a hundred different cleantech companies, and most of them failed. Failures come with the territory in the innovation business. But we stood by these entrepreneurs, and that billion dollars today is worth three billion. What I learned from that experience is that cleantech takes more time, more money, more guts, with longer horizons.”— John Doerr
John Doerr (@johndoerr) is an engineer, venture capitalist, the chair of Kleiner Perkins, and the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Measure What Matters. His new book is Speed and Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now.
John was an original investor and board member at Google and Amazon, helping to create more than half a million jobs. A pioneer of Silicon Valley’s cleantech movement, John has invested in zero-emission technologies since 2006. He’s passionate about encouraging leaders to reimagine the future, from transforming healthcare to advancing applications of machine learning.
Outside Kleiner Perkins, John works with social entrepreneurs who are tackling systemic issues across climate, public health, and education.
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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
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Want to hear another episode with someone committed to saving the world? Listen to my conversation with Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan, in which we discuss monkey birthday cakes, tips for frequent travelers, subjects crucial to a balanced education, the power of crossing disciplines, storytelling to rule the world, common misconceptions about conservation, why the people of today are in a unique time and place to save the planet, what we can do to cultivate long-term thinking, and much more.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with John Doerr:
- Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now by John Doerr | Amazon
- Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth by John Doerr | Amazon
- Intel at 50: The 8080 Microprocessor | Intel Newsroom
- The Traitorous Eight | Wikipedia
- OKRs: How VC John Doerr Sets (and Achieves) Goals | HBR
- The Gates Foundation
- Healthcare Data & Analytics Solutions | Nuna
- Venture Capital | Investopedia
- Tandem Computers | Wikipedia
- How We Started and Where We Are Today | Google
- John Doerr’s OKR Presentation | Google Slides
- Popular Search Engines in the ’90s: Then and Now | WebFX
- Everything You Need to Know about Google PageRank | Semrush Blog
- Visualizing the Quantities of Climate Change | NASA
- Gigaton Carbon Removal and the Paris Climate Agreement | Atlantic Council
- School Strike for Climate | Wikipedia
- The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells | Amazon
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the SEC – Glasgow 2021
- XI Says China Will Stop Building New Coal-Fired Power Plants Abroad | NBC News
- COP26 Aims to Banish Coal. Asia Is Building Hundreds of Power Plants to Burn It | Reuters
- Meet The Fisker Ocean | Fisker, Inc.
- Electric Cars, Solar & Clean Energy | Tesla
- An Inconvenient Truth | Prime Video
- Like Father, like Offspring? Mary Doerr, Daughter of Legendary VC, Launches Inconvenient Youth | VentureBeat
- Introducing the Green Premiums | Bill Gates
- From 0 to 70% Market Share: How Google Chrome Ate the Internet | Nira Blog
- Remarks by President Obama at UN Climate Change Summit | The White House
- GM Will Sell Only Zero-Emission Vehicles by 2035 | The New York Times
- Biden Pledges to Double US Climate Change Aid; Some Activists Unimpressed | Reuters
- What initially drew John to Silicon Valley? [05:27]
- Who was Andy Grove, and what were John’s first impressions of him? [07:18]
- What made Andy Grove a great manager? [10:13]
- How did Andy deliver honest, tough love without being abusive to its recipient? [11:55]
- While at Intel, why did John — with all of his technical training and experience as an engineer — request to be transferred from the company’s Santa Clara headquarters to its Chicago sales office? [13:08]
- What compelled John to get involved in venture capital? [16:09]
- John shares his first meeting with Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin. [18:23]
- What was on the slides John used in his pitch to Larry and Sergey, and what effect was he hoping they would have on them? [20:52]
- Way back in 1999, why were John and his partners confident enough to invest its largest capital commitment in the fledgling Google? [23:28]
- How does the Speed and Scale initiative plan to bring us back from the brink of an irreversible climate crisis? [28:40]
- What will it look like if we’re too late? [33:01]
- Why has there thus far been so little progress on getting closer to net-zero? [36:34]
- Favorite failures that set the course for successful action. [38:59]
- What changes have made cleantech investment more appealing in the past 15 years or so? [43:00]
- What are OKRs, and how do they differ from what many might consider goal setting? John illustrates how Google’s Sundar Pichai used OKRs to make Chrome the most popular browser in the world, along with an example of how he’s applied OKRs to his own personal life. [46:39]
- On making a life meaningful, and why John wishes he and his wife had started their family about 10 years before they did. [50:32]
- In what ways does John differ in opinion with Al Gore and Bill Gates on the climate conversation? [56:05]
- What action steps can we, as individuals, take to help mitigate the climate crisis in a meaningful way? [58:25]
- Parting thoughts. [1:03:35]
MORE JOHN DOERR QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW
“Cleantech takes more time, more money, more guts, with longer horizons. And the innovators, the entrepreneurs, need to—in Andy Grove speak—be ruthlessly, intellectually honest about where the risks are in their venture.”
— John Doerr
“For me, making meaning is to give a healthy climate to the future generations. I believe we owe it to them for them to enjoy the opportunities in nature and in the lives that we have.”
— John Doerr
“If we have a billion climate refugees, the people least responsible for this problem are going to pay the highest price, and they’re the least capable of dealing with it.”
— John Doerr
“Individual action is not going to be enough. If we’re going to get to net-zero, we need massive, global action.”
— John Doerr
“400 gigatons. That’s the maximum that we can emit to have a decent chance to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid an irreversible climate disaster.”
— John Doerr
“We invested a billion dollars in a hundred different cleantech companies, and most of them failed. Failures come with the territory in the innovation business. But we stood by these entrepreneurs, and that billion dollars today is worth three billion. What I learned from that experience is that cleantech takes more time, more money, more guts, with longer horizons.”
— John Doerr
“Climate change is the world’s biggest inequality machine.”
— John Doerr
- Ann Doerr
- Andrew Grove
- Robert Noyce
- Gordon Moore
- Johnny Appleseed
- Larry Page
- Sergey Brin
- Jim Lally
- Jini Kim
- Eric Schmidt
- Greta Thunberg
- David Wallace-Wells
- Jeff Bezos
- Christiana Figueres
- John Kerry
- Al Gore
- Mary Doerr
- Bill Gates
- Barack Obama
- Sundar Pichai
- Rae Nell Rhodes
- Jim Collins
- Mary Barra
- Bruce Nilles
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