[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
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
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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