John Doerr has some counterintuitive advice for aspiring VCs: Don’t join a venture capital firm.
Doerr was testifying in Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins. After testimony, the jury asked him questions to figure out how easy it is to learn to be a VC, and whether there’s a class you can take or training you can get.
“My advice for people who want to be in the VC industry is to forget about it,” he said.
Doerr — who has led investments in companies like Netscape, Google, Amazon, and Twitter — is one of the best VCs ever. He’s up there with the likes of Marc Andreessen, an investor in Facebook and Pinterest, and Sequoia Capital’s Mike Moritz, who was early into Yahoo, Google, and PayPal.
Doerr said aspiring VCs need to go out into the workforce and learn what people need.
“That’s not something you learn about in a class,” he said.
Only after gaining experience in the industry you’re interested in should you approach a VC firm and apprentice yourself.
“You should see how other venture firms conduct themselves, the way they don’t waste their time.”
Doerr said developing sound judgement on what companies to invest in is what sets VCs apart.
“The hardest thing of all is to become a good judge of what makes a great entrepreneur or a great CEO,” he said.
There are also some personality traits inherent to being a good VC.
“You’ve got to be trusted and respected by your partners,” said Doerr.