Video Of The Week: Steve Jurvetson

I’ve taken to turning on the Bloomberg TV channel with the sound off in my home office. Yesterday I was working on some stuff and I saw Steve Jurvetson talking to Emily Chang. So I turned up the audio and listened. I don’t invest in the same stuff Steve does, but I respect his focus on areas that are “out there” and not in the conventional VC investment universe. That is a recipe for success. I also like his observation that five partners is about the max for a well functioning venture capital partnership. I totally agree with that.

Here’s the entire interview:

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    The video is not playing for me. They must think I’m in Canada, eh.

    1. William Mougayar

      I played it fine for me :)what errors are you getting

      1. JimHirshfield

        Just spinning B logo thingy

        1. David Semeria

          — but the the pre-roll ad works fine….

        2. Twain Twain

          Me too.

    2. LE

      I’ve had problems with other B logo videos. They must use the cutrate Canadian CDN’s.

    3. Matt A. Myers

      Are you sure your internet is working?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Someone tripped over the power cord.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          That was going to be my second question.

    4. sigmaalgebra

      My installation with Firefox and Flash just leaves a blank spot on the Web page. But my installation of Google’s Chrome Web browser, old, vanilla, no or nearly no plugins or extensions, shows and plays the video right away.Looks like the world is getting away from Flash and, hopefully, also its security problems.

  2. Tom Labus

    working OK. Emily is gonna be calling you for one of these. You’d be great!!

  3. LIAD

    he’s smart, personable and charismatic.i like how emily asks a question and gets out the way. let’s the interviewee breath and speak, develop their point, explain their thinking. unlike some other tech interviewers who misguidedly think they’re the most important person in the interview and barge in every twenty seconds trying to steal the limelight

    1. LE

      Emily definitely gets the “Leslie Stahl” award for fawning over the interviewee.And “barge in” can also be “call out”. Lot’s of things coming out of the mouth of interviewees is suspect and part of the problem with the news is that they often ask a question but aren’t in a position (perhaps because that was negotiated to get the interview) to ask the really good questions or grill the interviewee. I am sure when Steve is going at it with an entrepreneur he doesn’t give them the same courtesy. Did you see how Jurvetson brushed off the failed bolt like it was no big deal? [1][1] Sure next time just make sure the o-ring doesn’t freeze or have better thermometers on launch day, simple.

    2. LE

      I mean come on “YOU HAVE THE VERY FIRST S EVER MADE, WOW!”.(I know Emily reads this blog by the way hopefully she will take the comments as constructive..)

  4. William Mougayar

    2 great quotes jumped at me that I’m memorizing:”The way we engineer things is changing””Build things that look more like brains, and less like computers”

    1. JamesHRH

      There is no particular proof that the second thing can be done.We don’t know enough about brains to replicate their design.

      1. William Mougayar

        Who wants proof when there is hope instead :)Even getting close to that would be a good thing. That’s the realm of AI.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        I think it ties better into his idea of build things that we don’t understand how they work.

        1. Twain Twain

          Know what happened the last time we built things that we don’t understand how they work? Black Box AI:”Over and over again, financial experts and wonkish talking heads endeavor to explain these mysterious, “toxic” financial instruments to us lay folk. Over and over, they ignobly fail, because we all know that no one understands credit default obligations and derivatives, except perhaps Mr. Buffett and the computers who created them.Somehow the genius quants — the best and brightest geeks Wall Street firms could buy — fed $1 trillion in subprime mortgage debt into their supercomputers, added some derivatives, massaged the arrangements with computer algorithms and — poof! — created $62 trillion in imaginary wealth. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that all of that imaginary wealth is locked up somewhere inside the computers, and that we humans, led by the silverback males of the financial world, Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson, are frantically beseeching the monolith for answers. Or maybe we are lost in space, with Dave the astronaut pleading, “Open the bank vault doors, Hal.”*…Yes, so Steve Jurvetson is right to be concerned. The difference between what happened in the financial sector with AI and what could happen in the wider system with Google AI is…The financial sector is highly regulated and the governments were forced to bail out the banks to the tune of $ TRILLIONS.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Well, I think the people pushing the financial instruments forward knew exactly what they were doing – they just didn’t care of the negative consequences or were banking on them.

          2. Twain Twain

            This is an area with lots of gray. We make decisions based on quantitative information that the machines can process faster and in bigger amounts than the human mind can. However, quantifying data isn’t the same as qualifying it.Plus once the machines in finance go into their derivative routines, it isn’t the case that folks would know exactly what they’re doing.

          3. Matt Kruza

            Yeah agree. I mean it was a probelm of economic incentives and lack of transparency. Paulson made over a billion alone on I believe the Abacus deal where he went to goldman and told them to put together a few billion of subprime loans.. which he sort of picked.. and then short sold them while goldman pitched the “long” side to their hapless “customers”… so yeah I think the smart money knew and intentionally screwed others over

      3. LE

        Agree. And maybe that “look more like brains” dream will be able to fix the spam problem since the human brain knows that when it sees it but not some computer algorithm. Amusing but even gmail eats it’s tail (I’ve had it think google mail is spam..)

      4. Twain Twain

        All of the major AI players (Google, IBM Watson, FB, Baidu) build machines brains like this:

        1. jason wright

          Google is scheduled to make a quantum computing announcement next month.

          1. Twain Twain

            MS is open sourcing Quantum Computing:*…Quantum Computing has implications for Blockchain.However, the increase in quantities and speed of processing still does not mean there will be an increase in the QUALITY of the data or in the machines’ ability to understand the meaning in Natural Language.

          2. jason wright

            i’ve read that qc creates the potential to brute force private keys from public keys. whether that’s a real concern i’m not so sure.

    2. Twain Twain

      Um… Ok, Google claims it’s already building things that look and think like our brain …They even branded it “Google Brain”.See Slide 13? That chemistry set is from when I was 16 (work experience at GlaxoSmithkline). It’s why I was able to avoid “Descartes’ Dogma” which has gotten all other AI folks into their current problems: their AI’s autistic…Too logical like the “Star Trek AI” Google envisions and is building.

      1. William Mougayar

        Great. I want to learn more about that.

        1. Twain Twain

          Do you see how Descartes’ & Bayes thinking also affects… Merkle Trees?Those methods served the world well during the Industrial Revolution. They provided frameworks to gauge if:0 = worker not productive1 = worker productiveHowever, now we’re in the Information Revolution, they’re proving to be unable to crack meaning.This means …First Principles invention is needed …

        2. Twain Twain

          Worth reading this TC article by investor at Bloomberg Beta. They seem to have invested in more AI startups than most.Tomorrow night I’m at a dinner with leading UK investors in AI. Most of their investments fall into the categories of “Alchemists” and “Gateways”.*…My invention is precisely at union junction of “Laser”, “Panopticon”, “Alchemist” and “Pioneer”.

          1. William Mougayar

            Thanks! I did read it yesterday actually and her previous Medium article. Good luck with your meeting.

          2. Twain Twain

            Cheers, William. About 4 years ago, one of those leading investors offered to back me to build their European version of declined for the same reasons I declined an incubator’s advice to do a “me too” variation of Disqus and Condé Nast eCommerce’s offer of joining their “me too” last Dec.My system inventions do things and solve problems in AI that not even Google, IBM Watson etc can solve.It’s much more fun to be at leading edge and augur in tech futures than be “me too” laggard, :*).

      2. David Semeria

        I can’t remember who said it, but the quote goes something like this:A computer will have no concept of human experience until it feels the wind on its faceIf you *really* think about that sentence, it’s pretty profound.

        1. Twain Twain

          The definition of consciousness and meaning is something that’s kept philosophers busy for millennia and more recently the quantum physicists and neuroscientists as they try to develop a “Unified Model for Information”.In the case of the computer feeling the wind on its face, the logicians and rationalists would argue, “It already does. Our fingers exert a wind force on the face of touch screens. The computer can sense the pressure on each pixel, convert it into type and then when we press “Go”, the computer can think and give an answer. That’s a form of embodied feeling by the machine from the “wind on its face.”Furthermore, we could apply probability (pattern recognition) so the computer can have a “premonition” about where the wind force would be next. That’s how predictive auto-complete in our typing works.However, consciousness and meaning go beyond the mechanics of the computer physically feeling the wind on its face, imo. It goes into whether the machine can have a SUBJECTIVE PERCEPTION and then neurally path from that like humans do when we experience something.In the case of Google’s problems with meaning in Natural Language, their databases have ingested all the dictionaries in the world, all the content and all the semantic schemas. They’ve applied “bag of words”, Word2Vec, recursive NN with Markov, phenomes and more to try to solve the problem but they still can’t crack it.It’s a common problem FB, Baidu, IBM Watson et al have.The answer is in writing some Quantum notation that enables Maths as a language (objective logic) to map over to Natural Language (subjective expression) in a coherent, super-positioned way.THAT is profound and proper “Deep Learning”, :*).

  5. Nitin Goyal

    Not playing for me too

  6. pointsnfigures

    An old VC once told me that VC’s invest in businesses that scale, but that VC itself doesn’t scale!

  7. William Mougayar

    He said something interesting about Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO of the Theranos:”She’s been independent and going at it on her own.”Isn’t that a red flag?

    1. David Semeria


    2. Twain Twain

      No because she hasn’t been “going at it on her own” as such. Her Stanford Chemical Engineering Professor backed her and became an early mentor-investor and she’s now got 500 employees.I can understand why she’s so driven. Apparently, one of her family members (uncle?) passed away from cancer and it got her to thinking about earlier detection via blood testing.

      1. William Mougayar

        I was interpreting his statement to be related to how she is currently managing the company. If you look at the governance page, it’s kind of unconventional. Can’t really tell who is on board and where the oversight is. And Henry Kissinger is on that Board and others to dress it up.

        1. Twain Twain

          Got it.My impression is the Henry Kissingers were appointed to help navigate the various government channels re. healthcare legislation and now they’re seeking more currently qualified medical experts for the board.

    3. iggyfanlo

      I would say it was his only PC moment… sounded like a lawyer scripted it to distance himself from potential lawsuits

    4. Jeremy Robinson

      It is for me, Bill. If i know anything about American lawyers [I coach quite a few of them and both of my grown kids are lawyers], I’d say that the attorneys are already circling that company.

  8. Busterbuster

    Here is a link that should work – didn’t work for me so I found the source page :

  9. Michael Elling

    4th minute: Jobs, Musk have “visceral agitation with imperfection.” Rockefeller was agitated by too many welds on an oil barrel and could scale the cost savings from pennies to billions in his mind. They just have different brains.

    1. LE

      Exactly and it depends on the product or service you are selling. A common mistake can be made in either direction by not considering when perfection is necessary and when it’s a boat anchor or beneficial in a significant way. Welds on oil barrels is a good example. Gates never strived for perfection that’s for sure and it doesn’t appear to have hurt him. And Tesla isn’t selling Kia’s or Hyundais. They needed to produce a niche product until they got their act together. So they more to lose than to gain by “to many welds on a barrel of oil” mentality.I remember is back in the 80’s a customer who had started a service to help executives who had been recently laid off from large corporations. He essentially gave them an office, prepared their resumes, gave them pep talks and seminars to help them find a new job. [1] (Think it was 6 mos per employee). Started as a 2 person operation, grew to thousands and sold to a large corporation later. [2] Importantly all of this was paid for by their former employer. That way he didn’t have to guarantee anything (I remember him telling me this).I also remember him telling me how he was unhappy with his CFO at the time (a guy named Rudy) because “Rudy is the type of guy who is bothered when the chairs that he buys for our offices don’t sit on the floor correctly”. (He then imitated the way Rudy fidgeted with a chair to reinforce the point).The pursuit of perfection only matters if in some way it leads to increased sales or some other benefit to the company. In the case of this company it didn’t but that also extended to the quality of the type on the resumes that they ended up producing inhouse on a laser printer instead of the professional typesetting that they showed when they would gain a new corporate account. (One of the services we did for them). 300 dpi was ok (looked like crap but hey remember who is paying for all of this, right?)As far as Jobs goes it is also possible that had he not had that pursuit of perfection (he was bothered by the paint in the Macintosh factory for example) he might have been a viable competitor to Microsoft or if he had not followed the strategy that he did with the OS or the things that got him fired, right? Nobody knows for sure. Just that the way things played out in this case worked. Ever open up a Dell Desktop? I did (in the 90’s) you could cut your hands on the metalwork in that piece of shit. And they sold lots of gear.[1] Actually what he did was take the tar baby off the corporations hands so they could wash themselves clean of the layoffs which in the 80’s were handled differently then they are today. Make them feel better about themselves and put distance between the hurt lifer and some kind of AK47 response. Keep them out of the bar and from beating their wives.…[2]

    2. Matt A. Myers

      And when you don’t have the resources to quell that visceral agitation, you learn patience and realize that things don’t need to be perfect right away – you just need to find a way to get a long enough runway to get them to perfect.

      1. Michael Elling

        Thought and diligence invariably trump resource constraints.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Mind is an unlimited resource.

    3. Twain Twain

      Steve Jobs belonged to the Thomas Paine school of philosophy.Imo, it’s less to do with perfection and more to do with precision. Even in their language, Jobs was and Musk is precise. They know exactly what they’re saying+doing and WHY they’re saying+doing it.

  10. BillMcNeely

    Why Bloomberg over CNBC? Have my own thoughts.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Bloomberg is less ADD, has fewer Brady Bunch talking head shots, and less arguing. Also, Bloomberg West (Emily Chang’s show) is up Fred’s alley.

      1. BillMcNeely

        After the financial crisis and the some of the former commentators either passed or moved to CNN, I found myself tuning into the programming Bloomberg West.

  11. LE

    What’s interesting is that the founders of (and despite and ironically Jurvetson naming Bhatia “Entrepreneur of the Year 1997”) don’t appear to have done anything remarkable after hotmail, at least according to their wikipedia pages. [1]……[1] As well as the generally accepted definition today of “remarkable”.

  12. Semil Shah

    Steve is a genius. Doesn’t seek attention, but on rare occasions when he speaks at length, it is so different than what most public VCs discuss (check out this recent transcript Q&A…. What’s also interesting about Steve is his age – he could do VC for another 20 years and catch more waves.

    1. Twain Twain

      I agree. I think he’s a genius amongst investors. He has natural intellectual curiosity, deep thoughtfulness and that matters.

  13. Mario Cantin

    It’s not loading for me either.

  14. LE

    Wow he is so in on self driving cars as the future that it’s almost scary delusional. Of course if you give a timeline as 100 years anything is possible, right? However he makes it sound as if it’s right around the corner and any company that isn’t on that track is surely going to go out of business. I’d love to seem him go head to head with some of the people at MIT that think the opposite (or even me for that matter) and see what happens. Plus the way he trumps up the benefits of “no oil changes, my brakes still haven’t been replaced!” as if that is some big pain point or major cancer break through [1] Car companies could easily cover brakes. Most new luxury cars built now (that I have bought over the last 15 years) are already super reliable. Maybe lower priced cars require a great deal of dealer visits and certainly used piece of shit cars that Steve drove in college, sure.I wouldn’t assume that getting us to a country of self driving cars is harder than fixing the spam problem. And it’s world’s harder than airplane autopilots because of “the other guy” and things that an algorithm can’t control for.[1] Car warranties have not only gotten better but Steve is a billionaire who can have multiple cars at his disposal and people to handle the service for him if he wants. Not to mention that luxury ICE dealers already provide pickup and delivery. I am sure he doesn’t vacuum his own house.

  15. Matt A. Myers

    I love this guy’s sense of humour.

  16. creative group

    Emily Chang question: So you are not a fan of Apple WatchSteve Jurvetson answer: No, I wear my watches. Battery.There are misses, Next, Watch.What we gathered from the video is the forward reports of the arrival dates on upcoming technologies.Unicorn fairy. lol

    1. LE

      With respect to Steve’s view on Apple watches, what’s actually funny is one of the reasons that he gives (battery). Odd because it seems quite possible to fix that as opposed to colonies on Mars or electric cars in every driveway.

    2. LE

      I mean in all honesty a guy like Jurvetson talking to Emily Chang is like me talking to my aunt and running circles around her with no worry that she could possible know enough to probe any of my answers. I’d love to see an interview with a guy like this taking on some heavy hitters who have knowledge of some of the things that he makes predictions on. My guess is that it would end up very Trump like with either Steve getting frustrated or Steve basically relying on his version of “trust me”. No offense intended toward Emily by the way I just don’t think she is in a position to do anything but let Steve give his thoughts. Entertaining but I don’t know how valuable it is in making business decisions.

  17. jason wright

    Estonia? a very wired society.

  18. jason wright

    so his strategy is to invest where there is no competition. a contrarian investor investing in contrarian ideas. if the aim is to create a very big market monopoly then it seems logical to take that route.

  19. awaldstein

    I don’t often just say–I liked this–but I did.Smart articulate guy and easy to watch interview.I thought the interviewer was quite good actually, smart, not in the way, and not afraid to ask what was on her mind.Thanks!

  20. Steve Orell

    …kind of hypocritical to assert that electric cars are ready for the right now yet apple watch has problems because of battery life. Agree with the assessment of both products but the real problem with apple watch is that it is ugly and the features are pretty average…if something is good enough people will recharge it…

  21. Kimberly Klemm

    If this interview is meant to showcase Steve Jurvetson, albeit Musk is phenomenal still, why isn’t the interview a focus on Jurvetson and not the greatness of others? I find this a bit promotional over “Who’s Who” instead of honest about interview Jurvetson because he is worthy of his own question and answer input solo…

  22. Jeremy Robinson

    Good interview. Didn’t think that Emily Chang did a bad job at all- certainly better than the standard CNBC folks especially Joe Whatisname who uses every interview as a basis for spouting his Climate-change-bashing Republican politics. I found Jurvetson very open and incredibly bright. I also found him affect-less and almost disconnected emotionally, a curious combination. I also agree with Bill M’s observation that Jurvetson’s comments about Theranos’ lack of transparency raised a very red, if opaque, flag about that company.

  23. creative group

    Our unbiased view of a few posts of never ending disgruntled contributors is summed upinto the following.Steve Jurvetson (A Stanford Graduate in Electrical Engineering in 2.5 years and MBA) plays on Space X and Tesla? If his only claim was an investment in Hotmail which Microsoft purchased some slanted views would be valid. But to dismiss his forward views based upon a perception his interviewer lacks of depth in technology is shorted sighted.It appears some contributors are like a guy yelling at a television when someone attributed to have invented something the disgruntled person says aloud that the person stole their idea. We always review the distance between the person who is respected by his field and at large based upon their accomplishments and the person who seeks that recognition but rarely if ever receives any recognition at the level the person thinks they deserve.

  24. Erin

    OMG why do we need to accelerate the evolutionary process so bad? Let’s just all take a deep breath here. On the other hand, that was a superb, illuminating interview, and I appreciated his articulation of his pov of the tech industry. I just need someone to explain to me why we’re racing so fast into AI, etc.