#543: Legendary Investor John Doerr on Picking Winners — From Google in 1999 to Solving the Climate Crisis Now | The Tim Ferriss Show

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Key Takeaways

  • “Climate change is the world’s biggest inequality machine. Those that suffer the most did the least to cause this, and those who caused this are best equipped to escape the consequences” – John Doerr
    • We are currently dumping 59 gigatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every single year
    • That number has to be net-zero by 2050 to avoid an irreversible and catastrophic climate crisis
  • John Doerr applies OKRs- Objectives Key Results to everything he does including advising Google in the early stages, fighting climate change, and even spending quality time with his family
    • Clear and pragmatic plan on what you’re going to do and how you’re going to get it done
    • Goals are achieved when people truly want to do what must be done
  • “With many great investment decisions, if it’s obvious, someone else has already done it or everyone is doing it” – John Doerr
    • Google was the 18th search engine created – even if you don’t invent a product category, it doesn’t mean anyone has done it right yet
  • “The world has lots of goals in respect to climate, but a long list of menu options is not a plan” – John Doerr

Intro

John Doerr

  • Came to Silicon Valley with nothing – no job, no place to live, no friends or family
    • Had a girlfriend, Ann, who dumped him right before she herself went to Silicon Valley. She got a job at Intel
      • Intel had just invented an 8-bit processor
    • Rented a garage apartment and attempted to cold-call his way into a summer opportunity
      • Got an internship at Intel and worked right down the hall from Ann; she was not thrilled initially 
      • They eventually got back together and have been married for 43 years
  • Andy Grove – Hungarian immigrant who studied semi-conductor physics and became the CEO at Intel
    • An early inspiration to John Doerr, Andy was one of the most iconic leaders in history
    • IMBO – Intel Management By Objectives
      • Management strategy for setting objectives and tracking progress through direct and open communication
      • Andy was gifted at confronting problems without confronting people
  • OKR- Objectives Key Results, extended theory of IMBO by John Doerr
    • “I was the Johnny Appleseed of the good gospel of Andy Grove” – John Doerr
    • Took these lessons to every venture capital mission he went on, including the Bill Gates Foundation and Google
    • What you’re going to do and how you’re going to get it done (more info)

Google and OKRs

  • John Doerr presented the OKR strategy in a slideshow presentation to Larry Page and Sergey Brin from Google
    • “We don’t have a better way to run this company (Google), we might as well give it a try”John Doerr quoting Sergey Brin
      • Every quarter, Larry would review the OKR results of every engineer at Google
      • Everyone, including leadership, was open about their OKR results but the information never leaked to the public. This was meant to be internally motivating and spoke to the accountability of the Google culture.
      • The goal was to get people to want to do what must be done and achieve operating excellence as they grew faster than any other company before them
  • “With many great investment decisions, if it’s obvious, someone else has already done it or everyone is doing it” – John Doerr
    • Google was the 18th search engine of its kind. Kleiner Perkins had already invested in another called Excite
      • In 1998, Excite tried to acquire Google but Google rejected it due to itssuperior technology
      • Search was in the very beginning, Google realized their goals hadn’t been achieved yet, even though the search engine product category had already been created
        • Google search was based on ‘page rank’ rather than keywords, how many pages point to the answer in question
          • ‘Page rank’ was named after Larry Page

Speed and Scale Plan for Climate Change

  • We are currently dumping 59 gigatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every single year
    • That number has to be net 0 by 2050 to avoid an irreversible and catastrophic climate crisis
    • The speed and scale plan is how we get there
    • Provides the timelines and actions needed for these deliverables to be met, built around the OKR strategy:
      • Electrify transportation
      • Decarbonize the grid
      • Fix food
      • Protect nature
      • Clean up industry
      • Remove carbon
  • “The world has lots of goals in respect to climate, but a long list of menu options is not a plan” – John Doerr
  • Call to action: Individual action is not enough, global and collective action is necessary
    • Win in policy and government – push your local politicians and employers to make net-zero commitments
    • Turn movements into action
    • Innovate and Invent
    • Invest more money
  • Current obstacles in climate change initiatives:
    • Overcome the entrenched incumbents relying on fossil fuels
    • Speed innovations needed to change from a green premium to a green discount
    • Clear and pragmatic action plan to an incredibly complex problem
  • “Climate change is the world’s biggest inequality machine. Those that suffer the most did the least to cause this, and those who caused this are best equipped to escape the consequences” – John Doerr

Venture Capital in Clean Tech

  • “We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it” – John Doerr quoting Barrack Obama
  • John with Kilener Perkins invested $1B in cleantech companies in 2006
    • Most of them failed but he learned a lot about the venture space in cleantech
      • Cleantech takes more time, money, guts, and has longer horizons
        • That $1B investment is now worth $3B
    • The cleantech sector is much more attractive now than it was in 2006
      • In 2020, venture capitalists invested $23B in more than 1,000 cleantech startups
      • SPACs, Series-A funds, and late-stage growth funds have been avenues to raise and scale financing

Life

  • John even applied an OKR to his parenting and family life
    • Objective: Have a healthy family life
    • Key Result: Be home for dinner 20 nights a month by 6:00 pm and be fully present (no screens)
      • Achieved it about 70% of the time
  • John’s north star is making meaning with and for others, especially his family
    • “When I look into the eyes of my grandchildren, I get to see the future. There’s nothing more meaningful.” – John Doer quoting his mentor Andy Grove
    • Tim feels he may need to have kids to truly answer the ‘meaning of life’ question well
      • Right now, Tim simply tries to form bonds to alleviate the suffering of others
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Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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