When it was time for me to leave Symantec in 1987, there were lots of tempers flying, really tired people not getting along with each other. John was a human being, added a real measure of kindness that was very much needed. I had heard other entrepreneurs say that he has a very short attention span, and I've seen that side of him too, but when it counted he showed up and made a difference. I'll always cut John a little extra slack because he came through for me once.
Brockman: Now that 211 has been defeated, what are you going to do next?
Doerr: We need a new network that complements industry trade associations. It should spans industries and focus on key issues for our community, the Silicon Valley "state of mind".
The network should be responsible and effective, playing hardball politics to win, pursuing an agenda that is pro-education, pro-economic opportunity, pro-growth - and pro-legal reform. Even with the defeat of 211 our job is not done. We need a new framework of law and thinking to help us govern in the new economy. I, and many others, will help form that new network. We'll get a bunch of good people together, raise money, get a good management team in place and let 'em run.
Brockman: Two years ago you said that the new companies in the PC industry went from zero to a hundred billion dollars in a decade, which was the largest legal creation of wealth we've ever seen on the planet.
Doerr: Right. And after the Netscape public offering, we started keeping track of the new Net companies. They are worth around 20 billion dollars in value today. That's less than 2 years into the mission.
It's easy to get dazzled with numbers, but more instructive to ask "why?" What's the underlying engine, the dynamic that's making this possible? If you oversimplify, the PC in the 80s was used to lower costs. It let us prepare manuscripts and do financial analyses. The big 4 applications were spread sheets, word processing, spreadsheets and word processing - and they lowered cost. The new Net applications lever the top line of an organization. Even if it's nonprofit. If it's an educational institution it helps it teach, if it's a hospital it helps heal. The new Net apps help us entertain, inform, inspire, communicate, educate, govern, collaborate -- even make meaning out of life (and death).
Brockman: I expect it will help my literary agency sell our clients' rights to our customers.
Doerr: It will help your agency sell and that's great. Top line leverage is much more important than below the line savings. Think of where we are in Net development as 10 seconds after the Big Bang. The laws of physics are in place but the universe is very young. We're very, very early in a revolution that's going to have long legs. I think it's conservative, even unadventuresome, to say the Net's going to be three times bigger than the PC. On a continuing basis for a decade. It may hit 30 on a Richter scale.
Brockman: You're talking about the Net. Are you also talking about the Web?
Doerr: For the moment, yes. But distinguish. The Web is a very popular protocol on the Net. I suspect it will be augmented if not supplanted by other protocols. We're seeing innovative work already from companies, like Marimba, redefining the experience.
In fact as you pointed out, this notion of visiting places with browsers is something that our children will look back on as very antiquated, today the way we remember manual typewriters. In the near future we'll subscribe to information services, or in the Marimba paradigm there'll be transmitters and receivers that are delivering channels. It's about communication. That much is clear.