Many people forget that before becoming a VC, Sequoia’s Mike Moritz was a card-carrying Time magazine journalist. Interestingly, however, while Mike didn’t have an investing background, he did write about VCs for Time.
Here, for example, is Mr. M. in 1984 writing fondly about the eminence grise of Valley VCs, Arthur Rock:
When the San Francisco Giants play in windy Candlestick Park, a man with owlish spectacles, tight lips, an aquiline nose and a stern gaze usually sits in a front-row seat, 70 ft. from home plate. Arthur Rock,
57, has been a Giants fan for 25 years, watching batters try to sort curve balls from sliders and change-ups from screwballs. Since the late 1950s. Rock has been carefully scrutinizing pitches of another kindâ€”start-up bids by young technology companiesâ€”and when he goes for one of these, he rarely misses. Says San Francisco Venture Capitalist Thomas Perkins: “Arthur Rock is the best long-ball hitter around.”
And it strikes me there is more than a little of Mike-as-VC in this description of Rock’s investment-side manner:
Rock’s professional manner is detached and clinical. He refuses to let his companies waste money and conveys a harsh sense of urgency. He says little at board meetings, and will sometimes squelch woolly ideas by abruptly asking, “What good will it do?” Says his onetime partner Thomas Davis, a California venture capitalist: “He only wants the right answer.” Behind Rock’s understated exterior lurks a remorseless will. Notes Palevsky: “Arthur makes it clear you had better win and you had better work your ass off all the time.”