Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #39 – Guy Kawasaki of Garage Technology Ventures

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If technology entrepreneurs have a guru, it surely must be Guy Kawasaki. For about two decades, Guy’s been advising entrepreneurs in one way or another. First as an evangelist for Apple, he courted software entrepreneurs and developers to write code for the Macintosh. Guy later tried his own hand at entrepreneurship, and eventually returned to Cupertino as an Apple Fellow. In the late 90’s, Guy jumped ship from Apple again to launch Garage Technology Ventures. Garage went through several incarnations before turning into the venture capital fund that it is today. Guy spreads his vision of entrepreneurship though books including The Art of the Start, speaking engagements, investing and blogging. Now you can hear his story.

1:00 The seminal years

  • Guy did his undergrad at Stanford in psychology.
  • “After Stanford I entered the UC Davis law school and then I quit, I only lasted two weeks.”
  • Guy got his MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
  • “I worked for a jewelry manufacturer, counting and selling diamonds.”
  • “Apple II was the first computer that I owned, which was an eye opening experience.”
  • “One of my friends from Stanford brought me into apple as the software evangelist.”
  • “Eventually I returned to Apple as an Apple Fellow.”

3:00 Getting into the Apple Cult

  • “I had no technical background, so I attribute my getting in the door basically to nepotism.”
  • “It’s better to be lucky than smart sometimes.”

6:00 Leaving the Apple Cult the 1st time

  • “What got me to leave is basically I started listening to my own hype, and I wanted to start a software company and really make big bucks.”
  • “…And I had a job review and he told me that the reason they were not promoting me to a director level position at Apple was because Ashton Tate, Lotus, and Microsoft did not like me.”

9:00 Guy’s business ventures, a summary

  • “I haven’t had sort of huge success in any of [my businesses] which always fascinates me that people say that I’m this great entrepreneur because I don’t consider myself a great entrepreneur. “

11:00 Back at Apple

  • “I was the first non-technical non-engineering fellow – probably the first and last – and my job was to preserve the Macintosh cult.”

15:00 Garage Technology Ventures, a brief history of Guy’s current company

  • “Then the bubble burst and nobody was writing checks, and so then we changed from being a broker dealer intermediary, helping entrepreneurs find investors, to becoming a direct investor ourselves.”

17:00 Venture Capitalists are rolling in dough

  • “You should never feel sorry for a venture capitalist… they all drive Mercedes and Porsches and BMW’s, you don’t bootstrap a venture capital firm.”

18:00 Guy doesn’t pity entrepreneurs

  • “A pretty good analogy is professional sports, do the coaches or a general manager of the team feel sorry for the players? Generally speaking you get paid 2 million bucks a year to play hockey, life is good man.”

19:00 Venture capital firms have a false line

  • “If you look at the huge successes, they are zero for three, so I could more easily build a case that you should look for an unproven team with unproven technology in an unproven market, cause that’s the billion dollar deal.”

21:00 Guy’s policy on funding

  • “I basically make a decision of whether I’m interested or not in the first five minutes, I either love it or I don’t care anymore.”

23:00 Signal Without Noise: Guy’s blogging ambitions

  • “I really wanna be in the Technorati top ten but I figured out, I don’t think I can get there, I really don’t, because the people in the top ten, the kind of blogs they do are product or news oriented.”

28:00 Experts

  • “If you meet a person who says he’s an expert in something, he’s full of it.”

29:00 Blogging demands heavy correspondence

  • “I am going to hire an online assistant, because I just cannot handle my flow anymore.”

31:00 Reality Checks vs. DEMO conference fees

  • “On my blog from time to time I run a type of blog called a reality check, they reflect companies that have come to us for money and I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I would like one more data point and I write a blog and tell people – thumbs up or thumbs down?”
  • “VC’s are so arrogant, I think most VC’s would refuse to believe that they could learn something from another person.”
  • “If word got around that Guy did a Reality Check on his blog, and people from Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson are following what reality checks are happening, I would be inundated with Reality Check requests, and then I would 25 grand to put up a reality check.”

37:00 Editorial policy

  • “I believe in polarizing people. If you don’t like my blog don’t read it. If you like it, read it.”
  • “If one person says, you should stop talking about your portfolio companies, that has as much impact as a raindrop hitting a battleship.”

38:00 Guy’s average day

  • “I probably spend 2-3 hours a day answering e-mail, 2-5 hours a day blogging, 2 or so hours a day in some kind of Garage venture capital whatever, and two hours, on many days, playing hockey.”

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