If you are at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Festival in Austin this week run don’t walk to the nearest movie theater screening Something Ventured, a new documentary offering an insider’s look at the genesis of some of the most successful tech companies in the US. Something Ventured, narrated by Po Bronson, features interviews with the original VCs of the 1950s and 1960s, and offers a rare glimpse of what the Silicon Valley was like 50 years ago when the two words “venture” and “capital” were auspiciously joined to form an industry that would eventually fund 27,000 companies to the tune of $47B.
Luck of the VCs
In this 85 minute film, the original investors and founders of such companies as Apple, Atari, Cisco, Fairchild Semiconductor, Genentech, Intel and Tandem Computers share their memories of successes and failures. Listening to the candid and occasionally self-effacing recollections of these gutsy investors and entrepreneurs who brought us the personal computer, fault-tolerant computers, human gene-splicing and the router among other innovations that we take for granted today, it is striking how much of their success is due to serendipity. The investors and entrepreneurs interviewed in this documentary include Nolan Bushnell (Atari), Reid Dennis (Institutional Venture Partners), Bill Draper (Draper Richards), Pitch Johnson (Asset Management Company), Dick Kramlich (NEA), Tom Perkins (Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers), Arthur Rock (Arthur Rock & Co), Don Valentine (Sequoia Capital), Dr. Herbert Boyer (Genentech), Jimmy Treybig (Tandem Computers), and Sandy Lerner (Cisco Systems). Each has a fascinating story to tell about how they followed their gut to bet the farm on long-shot investments. (more…)