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 user 2007-11-07 at 11:37:00 am Views: 46
  • #21131

    Ex-HP Director’s Book Opens With Scandal
    07 SAN FRANCISCO — Tom Perkins co-founded the firm that helped spawn
    Google, Amazon and Genentech. He married — and divorced — romance
    novelist Danielle Steel.

    his resignation from Hewlett-Packard Co.’s board revealed the spying
    that rocked that Silicon Valley institution.The venture capitalist has
    been relatively quiet since the effort by HP’s hired security
    consultants to ferret out boardroom leaks by spying on employees, media
    and directors exploded last year. Now, at 75, Perkins is returning to
    the spotlight with a memoir that starts with the HP scandal.A week
    before “Valley Boy: The Education of Tom Perkins” goes on sale, Perkins
    marveled at how the affair still generates headlines even though most
    of the criminal cases have been settled and the computer company’s
    business was largely unaffected.”These ladies just can’t stop taking
    whacks at me,” Perkins said of former HP CEO Carly Fiorina and
    Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, who left the board in the wake of the
    scandal. In an interview published last week, Fiorina called bringing
    Perkins back to HP in 2005 the worst mistake of her career.Perkins — a
    self-described “player,” “smooth operator” and “billionaire who writes
    books” — is usually direct like that, and self-assured. “Valley Boy” is
    his fourth book, after a textbook on laser science, a treatise on rare
    antique sports cars, and the novel “Sex and the Single Zillionaire.”

    Sometimes, he can be brutal, a venture capital colleague said.
    you want to stand up to him, you’d better be ready to, A, have your
    reasoning lined up and, B, be ready for a very emotional
    confrontation,” said Franklin “Pitch” Johnson, 79, who has known
    Perkins since the 1970s when they funded Tandem Computers, where
    Perkins remained deeply involved.A 1953 electrical engineering graduate
    of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Harvard MBA,
    Perkins said his greatest legacy will be co-founding the iconic venture
    capital firm Kleiner and Perkins in 1972. From an $8 million fund, it
    grew over the following three decades into the multibillion-dollar
    force now called Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers.

    The 525
    businesses the firm has helped nurture include AOL, Amazon Inc., Sun
    Microsystems Inc., Intuit Inc., Verisign Inc., Google Inc. and
    Genentech Inc., where he stayed on as chairman of the board for 10
    years. What set apart his style of funding companies, he said, was an
    intense involvement in forming their strategy and management from the
    start.Perkins’ on-again, off-again history with HP goes back decades.
    In 1963, co-founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard invited him to
    become the administrative head of the research department. He was the
    first general manager of its computer business.He says that when he
    rejoined the board — for the last time — at Fiorina’s urging in January
    2005, the celebrity CEO and the board were struggling over the
    direction of the company since it acquired Compaq Computer Corp.
    Fiorina was out a month later and Dunn took over as chairwoman.”She
    still doesn’t get it: The day she was fired, the stock went up,” he
    said of Fiorina. “The employees were in the parking lot singing, ‘Ding,
    Dong, the Witch is Dead.’ And she still doesn’t understand that she
    bears some responsibility for that. It’s amazing.”

    spokesman did not return calls seeking comment. Dunn’s spokesman said
    she has commented about Perkins only to correct the record.
    said he pushed the new chairwoman to think strategically. Instead, he
    says, she insisted on focusing on audits, legal compliance and the
    media leaks that started with Fiorina’s departure and continued after
    her replacement as CEO, Mark Hurd, was hired.Perkins said he worried
    that minutiae were obscuring the bigger picture — that HP was
    continuing to struggle with intense competition, a sagging stock price
    and low morale more than three years after completing the purchase of

    “Dell Computer was killing us at the lower end of the
    market and IBM was beating us up at the higher end of the market, and
    the whole corporation was getting scrunched between these two very
    excellent, growing, powerful companies,” Perkins said he kept reminding
    the board.Perkins quit the HP board in May 2006, after Dunn revealed
    that security consultants — by using false pretenses to obtain phone
    records — determined fellow director George “Jay” Keyworth had spoken
    with the tech news site CNet.com. Keyworth was asked to resign but

    Perkins insisted last week, as he did in 2006, that the story that appeared was harmless.
    left the board when the spying became public in a September 2006
    regulatory filing. The filing was prompted by an August letter from
    Perkins, who said he might tell the Securities and Exchange Commission
    that HP was violating disclosure rules by not saying he quit over the
    spying.”I just felt that what the company was doing … and the
    sacrifice of Director Keyworth, who in my opinion was the best director
    on the board, was throwing him to the wolves over essentially
    nothing.”Perkins learned in the interim that investigators had
    pretended they were him — or pretexted, as they’d done with journalists
    and other directors — to get his personal phone records.He still guards
    his privacy in some matters — what private boards he belongs to or how
    much his sailboat cost, for instance. The memoir is a smattering of
    vignettes, including an account of commissioning the 289-foot,
    three-masted clipper ship — the world’s largest sailboat.”Valley Boy”
    also includes a mock Q&A about his experience as novelist Danielle
    Steel’s fifth husband.”It was the intensity and the chaos,” he said
    during the interview in his Embarcadero Center office to explain their
    divorce. “Danielle and I still love each other. We see a lot of each
    other, and it’s really too bad that it didn’t work, but it didn’t.”