Mike Moritz In Foreign Affairs

Bilal shared a Q&A with Mike Moritz today in Foreign Affairs. I was a politics and international relations junkie growing up, but haven’t read Foreign Affairs in over a decade, so was surprised to see the link. You can read the piece here (registration required). When you’re Moritz, you can do a special interview release on Christmas day, and there are some good nuggets in here. I’ve pulled my favorite quotes below:


On an investor’s ability to identify success early: “No. It’s the PR people & the marketers & the revisionists who proclaim that everything was obvious from day one.

I love how he equates yesterday’s pundits to today’s “Twitterati” – “When we invested in Google, the predecessors of the Twitterati were very busy saying that it was far too late to invest in a search company

On identifying big, growing markets: “the only thing that we really understood with great clarity in the beginning—whatever it was, 1999—was that the need for search on the Internet was only going to go in one direction.

On what makes a world-class entrepreneur: “Clarity of thought. The ability to communicate clearly. A great sense of mission. A massive willingness to persevere. A willingness to make painful decisions. Extraordinary energy.

On anticipating the effects of automation: “It is extremely painful and distressing for people who are unfortunate enough not to have the education or the skills or be of an age where they can retool themselves for a new endeavor….manual endeavor is no longer valued and where increasingly [even] forms of intellectual endeavor that have previously been considered impregnable are now being taken over by machines. It’s cold and brutal.”

On worrying about world inequality: ” I don’t. Why don’t I? Partly because there’s nothing I can do about it.

On founders vs outsiders as CEOs: “The issue with companies that lose their way is that they’re run by people who do not act like founders…Most companies would be way better off with more entrepreneurs than managers.

On Silicon Valley culture today: “30 years ago, there were not as many mercenaries around. [Today,] the majority of people who work between San Jose and San Francisco don’t work for a company. They work for the Valley. The company where they are roosting is a temporary nest, and they will change their nest every three or four years, depending on their vesting schedule.

On China as the growth market: “I do wonder what America’s relative place will be, because so much of the dynamism in the world of technology is now taking place outside of the United States, and people here are just not aware of the scale of the achievement or the extent of the ambition of the entrepreneurs there…I was a Westerner, age 22, and felt that I either could make my way with my Mandarin or had sufficient confidence that I was going to master it, I’d be in China.”