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John Doerr Named Chairman at Kleiner Perkins, Vowing to 'Speed Up'

No, he's not planning on retiring just yet.

Kleiner Perkins

While most consider a promotion to a chairman role be a baby step toward retirement, in an interview today, Kleiner Perkins’ legendary venture capitalist John Doerr said the new title he is getting at the Silicon Valley firm is an opportunity for him to “speed up.”

He said the same in a blog post to staff. “With two daughters off to college I have more time, freedom and capacity for investing, learning and coaching,” he wrote. “Far from slowing down, I expect to speed up.”

In the interview, Doerr noted that while it was a new role, “becoming chair in some respects it is no big deal … it is more of the same in different proportions.”

That means, Doerr said, that he will continue to invest in current and new funds, in which he remains a large limited partner. But Doerr said that he would spend more of his time recruiting new talent to the firm and on mentoring upcoming Kleiner leaders such as Mike Abbott, Eric Feng, Wen Hsieh and Mood Rowghani.

“This is another step to an ongoing generational transition process,” he said. “It’s good for Kleiner Perkins and it is good for me.”

Transition has always been a big issue at venture firms in tech, with most usually waning after big investment players move out of the picture. Kleiner also had a rough patch last year, after a contentious gender discrimination lawsuit from former KP VC Ellen Pao, in a trial where Doerr was a star witness. (Pao lost, but the attention on the firm was not a high point for it.)

While Doerr did acknowledge that he had been the “face of the firm” for a while now, “there has been no one in charge.” That said, in his memo and to me, he named Ted Schlein, Beth Seidenberg and Mary Meeker as leaders now.

Doerr said the idea for this move was suggested a year ago by Silicon Valley’s Zelig, Bill Campbell, which you can read all about in Doerr’s missive to KP staff below:

Team —

A year ago our friend Coach Bill Campbell said, “John, you should become chair of Kleiner Perkins. You should do this now — it will be great for Kleiner Perkins, and for you.”

The more I thought about his advice, the better it sounded. With two daughters off to college I have more time, freedom and capacity for investing, learning and coaching. Far from slowing down, I expect to speed up.

Meanwhile, KPCB is in a great place. Over the last several years we have simplified and strengthened the firm. As I become chair, our tenured partners — Ted Schlein, Beth Seidenberg, and Mary Meeker — will continue to lead with a new generation of managing members — Mike Abbott, Eric Feng, Wen Hsieh and Mood Rowghani.

I will remain deeply involved in the daily life of KPCB, continuing to invest on behalf of our funds and my family foundation, and serving on our investment committees.

The venture industry is changing all the time. We must keep changing to better compete and serve entrepreneurs. The partners and I developed these OKRs for KPCB’s chair.

keep hustling to find and fund the best entrepreneurs

help entrepreneurs build awesome teams, accelerate growth and scale
find more time to look over the horizon for the next big thing(s)

recruit new talent to KPCB

help coach our nextgen leaders

This last goal is most important. I see this chair role as a “player coach.” For over four decades Kleiner Perkins has successfully developed new generations of partners. I’m super enthused about our nextgen leaders and the future.

You know I get great energy from the passion of entrepreneurs.

There’s never been a better time than now to start and grow a new company. Entrepreneurs — by definition, incredibly, do more than anyone thinks possible, with less than anyone thinks possible. Our job is to serve them.

Jeff Bezos would say this is still Day One … for Kleiner Perkins!

Our best years are yet to come. I’m proud to be your partner.



This article originally appeared on

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