This will either turn out to be brilliant or stupid. There is no inbetween when a firm like Kleiner Perkins hires a smart, prickly, and contrarian fellow like Bill Joy. You have to hand it to Kleiner though: They know how to play the venture game, and bringing in people like Joy is one way to play in 2005. You get guru frisson, you get boffo column-inches, and you get an enlarged deal network, and it is all wrapped in one wild-haired package.
So, will Joy be more like Robert Metcalfe — someone high-profile who came into venture capital late and it seemingly suits — or more like Stewart Alsop — someone high-profile who came in late and for whom it was seemingly a poor fit? Equally, will KP be able to give Joy enough rein to pursue his myriad stated investment interests?
Consider, here is Joy on where he wants to put out money:
“As a KPCB partner, I will continue to help entrepreneurs advance the Internet, develop wireless innovations, and find new ways of using large piles of computers to solve difficult problems. I’m also particularly interested in discoveries and inventions that solve energy and resource problems, and in applying 21st century advances in physics, chemistry and the natural sciences to help create abundance.”
In other words, Bill wants to invest in, you know, stuff.