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Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr is known for backing some of the biggest entrepreneurs in tech, including Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Jeff Bezos.
Some may view it as luck that Doerr picked correctly that Google, Amazon and Intuit would go on to become the biggest tech company. But Doerr has had great practice picking winners in a crowded market.
“It’s pattern matching. That’s the secret sauce,” Doerr said on-stage at Tech Crunch Disrupt in San Francisco on Tuesday.
The DNA of the founders he chose decades ago is present in entrepreneurs today. The entrepreneurs are just younger than before because there’s more opportunities to get into tech, Doerr said.
Those same opportunities, though, have created crowded markets full of entrepreneurs. Doerr is most excited about a healthcare startup that’s still in stealth mode and picked the founder out of the crowd. He chose her in the same way he knew to invest in Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Doerr said. It’s matching the pattern.
“The character of the team. Knowing whether or not I’d like to be in trouble with her and her team. The boldness of the vision. The focus on the execution,” Doerr said. “That’s how.”
During the same talk, Doerr was excoriated on Twitter for an insensitive quip about diversity at Kleiner Perkins, when he said, “We have two new partners who are so diverse that I have a challenge pronouncing their names.” He was referring to Muzzammil Zaveri and Swati Mylavarapu. He later apologized: