Tom Perkins, one of Silicon Valley's pioneers, with a career that spanned entrepreneurship, the management of major corporate activities and most importantly, venture capital, as a co-founder of firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers , died on Thursday in Tiburon, California.
Perkins formed one of the first venture capital businesses in America, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in 1972, with co-founder Eugene Kleiner. The firm has invested in some of the most innovative businesses including Google, Amazon, Uber and Twitter.
“Tom was a pioneer in the venture capital industry,” said Brook Byers and Frank Caufield, co-founders of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in a statement.
“He defined what we know of today as entrepreneurial venture capital by going beyond just funding to helping entrepreneurs realise their visions with operating expertise. He was there at the start of the biotech industry and the computer revolution. Tom was our partner and friend, and we will miss him,” said the two co-founders.
Before he founded the venture capital firm, Perkins started University Laboratories in the mid-1960s to manufacture lasers based on his original inventions in optics, the company merged into Spectra-Physics. He was also the first general manager of Hewlett Packard's computer divisions and is credited with establishing the foundation for the growth the business has enjoyed, according to Kleiner Perkins' website.
Perkins was the director of Genentech Inc, a biotech company acquired by Roche Holding AG for $46.8 billion in 2009, as well as Compaq Computer, The News Corporation, and Philips Electronics, among others.
In the late 1980s, Perkins stepped down from active investing at the firm and John Doerr took over.