A billionaire venture capitalist who got rich by betting correctly on the nascent tech giants Amazon and Google, said one of his biggest regrets was refusing to back Elon Musk’s electric car maker Tesla in 2007.
John Doerr, the chairman of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins that amassed a fortune estimated by Forbes at $11.5 billion, told Bloomberg News on Tuesday that he had the chance to support the young unicorn a decade and a half ago — well before it was launched. the most valuable car manufacturer in the world.
Doerr, 71, said Musk, whose stake in Tesla has earned him the accolade of the world’s richest person, surpassed him at the time as “an ambitious, somewhat crazy entrepreneur.”
But the idea of investing in a car company at the time was a turn-off because the odds against Tesla were great, Doerr said.
“That’s probably the worst investment decision of all time,” he told Bloomberg News.
As of Tuesday, Tesla has a market cap of $933.92 billion, making it the most valuable automaker in the world.
Investing in Tesla would have yielded a nice profit at the time. Sergey Brin, Musk’s friend who co-founded Google, was an early investor in Tesla.
In 2008, he invested at least $500,000 and helped raise $40 million. If he cashed in on his investment now, he would have at least $100 million in his pocket, according to Business Insider.
Musk’s net worth is valued at $263.6 billion by Forbes.
Despite the poor decision, it’s unlikely anyone will feel sorry for Doerr, who managed to make a nice return on his investment in tech successes like Twitter, Google, Slack, and Amazon.
Earlier this year, Doerr and his wife, Ann, gifted a $1.1 billion check to Stanford University, which will use the money to start a school committed to fighting climate change.
Doerr is on the board of Google and served on boards that advised President Barack Obama on economic policy.
In 2000, Google co-founders Larry Page and Brin asked Doerr to arrange a meeting with Apple CEO Steve Jobs so they could offer the iconic visionary the top leadership role at the fledgling search engine.
Doerr suggested instead that the two men, who needed “adult supervision,” meet with Eric Schmidt, Novell’s CEO.
Schmidt was eventually hired as CEO at Google, running the company over the course of a decade during which it became the dominant search engine.
Kleiner Perkins currently manages assets totaling approximately $20 billion.