On June 22, 2011 at the historic San Francisco Orrick Building and sponsored by Sotheby’s International Realty, BAIA hosted the much awaited event with guest speakers William H. Draper III, the legendary venture capitalist, and Federico Faggin, technology entrepreneur and designer of the world’s first microprocessor.
Awhile everyone enjoyed the time to socialize and get a bite to eat, the sold-out audience was eager to engage in Mr. Draper’s conversation with Mr. Faggin, who had a selection of carefully crafted and inspiring questions for Mr. Draper. From which, Mr. Faggin’s first question was: Are there any start-up companies that have had a strong impact on you and therefore stand up in your mind? As Mr. Draper lightheartedly commented, the above question is the same as asking which child is your favorite one! As readers may know, Mr. Draper invested in the first defibrillator, in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test technology, which years later saved his life, and was an early investor in Skype. Three investments that he considers to stand out.
Nowadays, entrepreneurs have the daunting task to find fifteen minutes of a venture capitalist's time. In most cases, you get an impersonal "No, thanks, not interested." In a few instances, you are privileged enough to have a venture capitalist tell you everything that is wrong with your company. It is hard to believe that in the early days of venture capital Mr. Draper was actually the one who came to your door. Even more so, Mr. Draper told us the story of how he got into contact with Zilog, a technology start-up: by placing his business card between the windscreen wipers of the founder’s car!
From Mr. Draper’s conversation with Mr. Faggin, my personal highlight was when Mr. Draper referred to venture capital as a "force of change" for the technology industry, but equally important for society. In this respect, for example, the availability of capital to Skype has enabled people from different parts of the world to communicate at little cost and as a result the way we do business and interact in society has changed because of that. The same belief and passion seem to motivate Mr. Draper's foray into social investing through the Draper Richards Caplan Foundation.
BAIA readers and entrepreneurs, do you think that your company is creating a positive “force of change” for society?
Thanks to all of you who have attended the event and we will keep you updated on all future ones. A special thanks to Mr. Draper and Mr. Faggin who took the time to share their insight and offered us to listen in on their conversation.
Grazia Bennett's introductory remarks:
"Good evening. I am Grazia Bennett and I am a member of the Governance Board of BAIA. Tonight I have the honor to introduce Federico Faggin and Bill Draper.
Federico is one of those persons that makes me proud to be Italian. He represents the intelligence, creativity, flexibility of mind and charm that make Italians irresistible. Federico Faggin is an inventor and a successful entrepreneur. I need only to mention that the 4004, the world's first microprocessor, is signed with the initials F.F., for Federico Faggin, its designer. He has been awarded many honors including in 2010 the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama, the highest honor given by the United States government to scientists, engineers, and inventors.
Bill Draper, is one of the fathers of the venture capital business. If you go to his office there is a picture of him posing as 007 “Dr. Yes” instead of “Dr. No”. A yes attitude and optimism are the qualities that have driven his life. In 1962 he and his best friend Pitch Johnson moved West and embraced the venture capital profession in stride. They committed themselves to make money, create significant companies while having fun doing it. They did exactly that and are still best friends. Bill started not one but four VC firms. In 1994 he was the first VC to invest in private companies with operations in India ending up returning 16 times the limited partners money in about 6 years.
Bill dedicated 10 years of his life to public service. He was the second highest ranking person at the U.N, travelled to 101 developing countries and met some of the 20 century most prominent leaders including having a 5 hours lunch with Fidel Castro.
Bill is also a generous man. He has been supporting many non-profit organizations and through his Foundation he has given seed capital to several social entrepreneurs.
Bill is the first one to admit that he is better in valuing people than technology or businesses. He has to see drive and vision in the eyes of the people that he is funding as a VC or as a philanthropist. Rarely has he been wrong.
Bill has been in my life for many years. I was mesmerized from the get go by his huge personality, brilliant mind but above all by his childlike curiosity for everything. He is a loyal friend and I love him dearly.
Please join me in welcoming Bill Draper and Federico Faggin."