[FoRK] Rare Compton/Doerr comments in favor of Perkins re:HP

Rohit Khare < rohit at commerce.net > on > Thu Sep 7 13:08:33 PDT 2006

Quite the saga -- I've barely got my head around it... read the whole  
package at the merc:

> How easy is it to get someone's calling records?
> Valley icon and ex-board member is catalyst to storm
> Langberg: For violating directors' trust, Dunn should be done
> Timeline: How the spying case unfolded (PDF)
> Who's who: HP's Board of Directors
> Key players in HP's privacy scandal
> HP SEC filing (PDF)
> Thomas J. Perkins' letter to the HP board of directors (PDF)
> AT&T letter to Thomas J. Perkins (PDF)
> Emails from Thomas J. Perkins (PDF)
> Search warrant for Cox Communications records (PDF)
> Use of 'pretexting' to get records draws attorney general's attention

Valley icon is catalyst to storm
By Michelle Quinn
Mercury News
Tom Perkins has millions in the bank, laurels to rest on, a racy  
novel under his belt and a project that has absorbed his attentions  
-- a mega-yacht he has built to sail the world.

One might think he would be an unlikely protagonist in a boardroom  

But Perkins, at 74 and retired, has become the catalyst in the saga  
surrounding Hewlett-Packard's board. Perkins will snap into fight  
mode, say friends and colleagues, if a principle is at stake.

``He's an icon in the valley for a reason,'' said Kevin Compton, a  
partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the storied venture  
capital firm Perkins co-founded. ``If something has rankled his sense  
of principles, he will make an issue out of it.''

Perkins now finds himself at the center of a controversy enveloping  
HP's board. In May, he abruptly quit the board in protest over how  
Chairwoman Patricia Dunn handled an investigation into the source of  
leaks by board members to the media.

Ever since, Perkins has pressed to bring details of the investigation  
to light.

Perkins hired Viet Dinh, a former Justice Department official and now  
a Georgetown law professor credited for helping to write the Patriot  
Act, sweeping anti-terrorism legislation that some have argued has  
curtailed privacy rights.

According to documents obtained by the Mercury News, Perkins lobbied  
the company to change the minutes of the May meeting to reflect what  
he considers to be a more accurate rendition of what happened. He  
also demanded that HP file with the Securities and Exchange  
Commission the reasons for his departure.

Perkins sought to find out how HP conducted its investigation into  
boardroom leaks, asking for information from the company's outside  
counsel, Larry Sonsini, and help from telephone company AT&T.

As he learned more, Perkins alleged that the company broke laws and  
behaved unethically when its investigators pretended to be HP board  
members in order to obtain home and cell phone records. He asked the  
company to do an internal investigation, which it did, according to  
the SEC filing.

But Perkins didn't stop. He contacted the California Attorney  
General's Office and the SEC to look into some of HP's actions.

``Tom is ruthlessly, intellectually honest, with impeccable  
integrity,'' John Doerr, another partner at Kleiner, said in an e- 
mail. ``He loves HP.''

For Perkins, it is just the latest chapter in his long relationship  
with HP. He began his career at HP, the first MBA recruited by David  
Packard and Bill Hewlett. In interviews, he credits Packard for  
teaching him what he needed to know about venture capital.

In 1972, Perkins co-founded Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the  
venture capital firm that launched companies such as Compaq,  
Genentech, Google and Amazon. He joined HP's board after its merger  
with Compaq in May 2002. He later retired from the board but rejoined  
in February 2005 just before Carly Fiorina was ousted as HP's CEO.

Recently, Perkins turned his hand to writing a novel, ``Sex & the  
Single Zillionaire''-- about a successful widower who agrees to  
appear on a reality TV show about young women auditioning to be his  

In writing the book, Perkins got support from Danielle Steel, his ex- 
wife and famed novelist. His custom-built 287-foot yacht, named  
Maltese Falcon, is a technological wonder that has consumed much of  
his time, money and energy in the last several years.

But for Perkins, HP may, too, be a labor of love.

``This is a very sad duty,'' he wrote to some board members in August  
2006. HP ``now needs, urgently, to correct its course.''

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