The founder of what is perhaps the most active venture network (Draper Fisher Jurvetson), Draper started his talk by quoting Marilyn Monroe — “ ‘What the hell’ is usually the best decision.” — a quote he said he’d just discovered on the plane to Israel.
If “What the hell” isn’t DFJ’s approach to diligence, exactly, it might well be Draper’s compass for identifying new market opportunities. During his meandering talk, Draper identified many of his firm’s investments as the solution to insurmountable global problems. “Politicians see global problems and they create policies to solve them,” he said. “Entrepreneurs finally solve the problem.”
Skype, Hotmail, and Reva, for example, will bring world peace. “Communications companies have gone after [solving the problem of] war better than we imagine,” he said. “Think of it: the idea of having a war with someone is a little bit ludicrous when we’re all so interconnected, and businesses span the globe.”
Skype as olive branch may be a bit tough to embrace, but Draper did proffer the provocative notion that the world is shifting from “land-based governance” to “competitive governance.”
As borders fall, he said, “Governments must compete for great businesses, capital, and entrepreneurs.”
Competitive governments will be identified by free markets, rule of law, private land ownership, good communications infrastructure, liberal bankruptcy laws, easy repatriation, and no cross-border taxes.
I would have liked Draper to dig into this topic more fully; it’s a compelling notion that governments might compete more as entrepreneurs than as empires. Instead he jumped into a treatise on logarithmic market growth and acceleration curves. By Draper’s estimates, the last 100 years have brought penicillin, water purification, global transportation the Pill, and the moon walk. The next 20 years? Teleportation. He may have been pushing the point, but it’s hard to know for sure, given his discussion on the “terrestrializaton of Mars.” (Among his biz ideas: bat guano to provide nitrogen and a nuclear bomb to warm the red planet.)
Draper provided many seeds for hallway fodder, but nothing will capture the conversation so much as his passionate support for “energetic heroes.”
Draper the “Mad Genius” closed his talk by lip synching his rock homage to the entrepreneur:
He’s is the Riskmaster
Lives fast, drives faster
Skates on the edge of disaster
He is the Riskmaster