Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kleiner Perkins' Bill Joy: Fail Early, Fail Small

I always feel guilty about leaving out Caufield and Byers when I write a KP headline.
Sort of like dropping Smith and Beane from Mother Merrill.
From Earth2tech:
Bill Joy aims for early failures & bigger impacts
When an investor or entrepreneur makes high-risk bets on early stage companies, failure is always part of the equation. For Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Partner Bill Joy, he says more of the early stage greentech startups he invests in with fail early, because he takes on riskier startups. But if those startups make it past the early stage, they can turn into something more meaningful and have a higher-impact on the industry and society.
“I try to have a first  [investment] round that has a 50/50 mortality rate,” said Joy at MIT’s Emerging Technologies Conference on Wednesday. So essentially the early stage startups he likes to back have a 50 percent chance of not working. “Now a 90 percent mortality rate is not a good use of my time. That’s something for the government to back,” added Joy.

Joy has 10 to 12 startups he works with at anyone time, including companies like Siluria, which converts natural gas into ethylene (a key ingredient in plastics) and Renmatix, which makes sugar from biomass that can be turned into biofuel and biochemicals. Joy joined Kleiner six years ago after starting Sun Microsystems in the early 80′s....MORE
For the life of me I don't remember "backing commercial projects with 90% failure rates" as being among the federal government's enumerated powers.
Mr. Joy must be talking about state governments.

We have quite a few posts on innovation, here's one that echoes the Joy philosophy:
Fail Often, Fail Fast: "Are We Behind On Innovation That Matters?"

See also:
"Top Investment Trends For Futurists" (PXN; TINY)

and this search of the blog has some good stuff.