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John Doerr is the Bill Gates of venture capitalists.

The Gadfly (John C. Dvorak)

Doerr: Among the digerati, you're considered the default venture capitalist. What, exactly, do you do?

Doerr: We help assemble and then invest in a team of entrepreneurs or scientists. Usually the ventures are startups. Sometimes they're already going - I call those "speedups" (like Intuit, Shiva, or Amazon.com). Occasionally, we'll see a huge opportunity, like two-way paging, or cable modems, and pull together "co-ventures" of entrepreneurs and corporate partners. MTEL/Destineer and @Home are examples. In the end, we're recruiters who pay you for the right to help build your team. You reward us with shares of stock. We both work like crazy to make the stock valuable.

Money is actually the easy part of the equation. There's lots of sources for money. Netscape is a good example. Co-founder Jim Clark personally had all of money needed to finance Netscape. However, he wanted the help in team-building. In a hundred twenty days or so after we shook hands, my partners and I helped Jim hire a world-class team: five vice presidents and an awesome CEO. Without that team, by now Netscape might have been killed by Microsoft. Last quarter was one hundred million dollars in revenue and they're at a four hundred million run rate. At two years old they're the 18th largest software company and most rapidly growing ever. Ideas are easy. Teams win.

Brockman: Is there publishing business to be done on the Web?

Doerr: Absolutely. All Internet revenue is divided into three buckets. First, there's folks who make money principally from advertising. They're basically like our broadcast media but they're more personalized. Examples are Excite, Yahoo and C/Net - media businesses driven by advertising, supported by sponsors. Second, there are Web businesses which are based on subscription services. Sports Line, for example has a subscription service for tens of thousands of sports enthusiasts (typically white males). Many are betting on sports in office pools. It's a big business. TEN is the new Total Entertainment Network, a multiplayer game service. Another example would be the Wall Street Journal, which I understand now has some 40,000 subscribers paying $5 a month. They get advertising support as well. (It's not clear you can make it on subscriptions alone).

The third revenue source is transactions. Some of the compelling new web businesses are Amazon.com, OnSale.com, Preview Travel, or PC Order. Those businesses are growing faster than the natural growth rate of the Web, which still clocks in around 6% a week. A number of transaction companies are profitable already.

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