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could actually do it. I think we're going to see a number of those in the next few years, because we're just at that point in the cycle. Just as radio or electricity or cars were all surprising, so these will be surprises of an equal size.
And what do you think it will take to make those kinds of things a reality rather than a general theory or concept?
Joy: Well, I don't know. Just think of a "Star Trek" DVD at the store, and you'll see all sorts of stuff on there that we don't have. Which of those will occur? That's not really possible to say.
I'm not saying we are going to have time travel (I am not sure it is that useful anyway), but I think, especially in the area of medicine, we will see some spectacular cures for diseases we didn't think would ever get cured.
You recognized the browser would be a hot area back in the early 1990s. Do you find your talent is in picking hot investment categories, but that you have more trouble identifying a specific company worth investing in from that category?
Joy: I think I have an idea of certain things that are likely to happen, but you can't say when they will happen. For example, the idea of a Web had been implemented in different systems 20 years before Tim
What allowed it to happen was an environmental change. All of a sudden, a lot of computers were interconnected at a decent speed in an ecosystem that had been created by the existence of those networks. Then this idea, which had been around for a long time but had never been fully flushed out, certainly became possible.
In the same way, our ability in science to design new materials into biology--and simulate that inside of computers and understand what's going on at the atomic scale--allows us to engineer new materials and create new drugs, and do all sorts of things that we couldn't do before. So that tells you that certain things which have been roughly science fiction are now going to be possible.
Exactly when they're possible--well, there's a kind of a frontier. So if you have a general perspective on where we are, you can make some predictions about what kinds of things you should be expecting.
Why did you decide to go into venture capital?
Joy: At Sun, I enjoyed working with entrepreneurs and people with a passion for doing something new. As a partner at Kleiner, I get to see the best entrepreneurs come through the door and help them to realize their dreams.
Are there certain investment areas you're going to be focusing on?
Joy: I'm interested in energy...It's great that it's so socially relevant, but it's also an area of huge opportunity to create new more efficient forms of energy and apply that to the economy. There are a lot of factors coming together which likely will make this a very big area for change in the economy in the next 10 to 20 years.
Are you better at identifying technology trends or picking the winners among those trends?
Joy: In reality, what happens is there's some large number of opportunities that come by every year. Some are unsolicited, others are because of relationships that you have?Each of us has a different way of looking at these things. I probably have a more technical approach to looking at them than most.
In terms of your strengths, are you better at seeing something in terms of when it might start to happen, or are you better at recognizing a technology because it holds broader promise?
Joy: It's a balance. But that's why we have a team approach at KPCB. Sometimes, something may come to me, and I may be lukewarm on it. But I can send an e-mail off to a couple of the partners.
One really important thing is to be very organized and manage your time well, because it's really about relationships between people and companies, and helping people put things together. Fundamentally, it's about getting the teams to work well and building them. That's the hard part, but that's key.
At Sun, what was the most frequent way in which you come across companies that you might want to invest in?
Joy: Most of them came from just e-mail referrals from friends.
Looking back a few years, have you drawn any lessons? Did you think VCs were putting money in places that didn't make any sense?
Joy: Yeah, I thought it was overheated. I think sobriety has returned, and it's a good thing. The problem is when there's money being thrown around, and high valuations are paid, and the good ideas are competing with really bad ideas, and things are over-invested, nobody can make any money. That's not a healthy situation. It's healthy to eat a normal amount per day, but having twice as much doesn't make you healthier.
Do you think people are in danger of forgetting that history?
Joy: I'm not really worried about it. I mean, if it goes crazy, then you have to adjust your behavior. But at the moment, there seem to be an enormous number of interesting ventures to look at, and a lot of great and new companies are going to come out of this next class.
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