April 11, 2012

John Doerr

Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Portrait of John DoerrJohn Doerr joined Intel in 1974 just as they invented the famous “8080” 8 bit microprocessor. At Intel he held various engineering, marketing and management assignments, and was one of their top-ranked sales executives.

In 1980 he joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and sponsored a series of investments including Compaq, Cypress, Intuit, Netscape, Lotus, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, S3, Sun Microsystems, Amyris Biotechnologies, Symantec and Google.

John was the founding CEO of Silicon Compilers. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Amazon.com and Google. The privately-held company boards include Miasole, and Bloom Energy. He holds patents for computer memory devices he invented as a design engineer at Monsanto. His interests include public education, prevention of global infectious disease, and the protection of the environment.

John Doerr was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Electrical Engineering from Rice University and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

I met KR Sridhar, an Indian born American entrepreneur, in 2001 in his lab at the University of Arizona. He was, literally, a rocket scientist. With a federal grant to develop technology to sustain life on Mars for NASA, he invented and built a remarkable device capable of producing air and fuel from electricity to meet this challenge.

KR soon realized that this technology could have an even greater impact here on earth. By running the system in reverse, he could transform any hydrocarbon (natural gas, biomass, animal waste) to generate electricity at very high efficiency - all without burning the hydrocarbon.

In 2001, I made the initial investment to help him achieve his goal of changing the way the world generates and consumes energy. The team packed up three Uhauls and headed to NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and Bloom Energy was founded.

Over the next few years, the technology quickly developed from concept, to prototype, to product, as the major technological challenges were solved and the systems became more powerful, more efficient, more reliable, and more economical.

Bloom is now powering several Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Walmart, FedEx, eBay, and others. They have grown into a 1000+ person company with headquarters and manufacturing operations in California. They’ve built a global supply chain, and recently announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Delaware, taking over the abandoned Chrysler plant and reinvigorating job growth.

Bloom is a story of success in American energy innovation and job creation. It began with federally funded university basic research to enable a transformative technology, under the leadership of an immigrant to America with an amazing entrepreneurial spirit and vision.

For every Bloom many other innovative ventures will fail; that’s the discipline of capitalism and power of markets. America must embrace risks in innovation and invest heavily in R&D to create a full pipeline of good ideas today so that dozens more - even hundreds more -  American Blooms will bloom.

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