Is John Doerr Secretly Behind Friedman’s VC Bailout?


So who put the idea of injecting $20 billion of taxpayer money into venture capital firms in the head of Tom Friedman.

Connie Loizos at PE Hub thinks she knows: John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Doer is reportedly a close personal friend of Friedman. Doer is a a fan of Friedman’s books. The two men even go on an annual cross country skiing trip.

Here’s Loizos:

Why would John Doerr think $20 billion dollars from Uncle Sam is a good idea for his firm and its competitive peers?  Consider that many of KP’s follow-on investors are in serious doo-doo right now. And potential sources of capital, especially of the kind that could once afford to contemplate the large cleantech projects that KP has taken to backing, looks to shrink further…

Apparently, the firm is having little problem securing new commitments; as of a couple of weeks ago, documents showed that the firm was nearly three-quarters of the way toward its overall target of $1.25 billion. But with every institution from Harvard to the finance department of Dubai hard hit by the global financial crisis, I doubt Doerr is taking anything for granted at this point.

In fact, I’d guess a $20 billion injection from the government to the “top 20 venture capital firms” is a proposal that Doerr could get behind, if he hasn’t already. After all, KP wants its companies to thrive and it can’t support them on its own — not if it wants to diversify its risk and maintain a balanced portfolio.

Yes, taxpayer dollars would likely come with some uncomfortable strings attached, but if a firm like Kleiner can strengthen its companies while also potentially providing returns for American taxpayers, why not?

This sounds plausible to us, although we wouldn’t totally discount the notion that Friedman, anticipating a crunch hitting his VC friends, simply hatched the idea all on his own. What do you think?