January 06, 2005

The Venture Adventure

M. Simon has a rambling post about intergenerational difficulties. In it he makes the provocative statement that

In fact some day when the real history of Silicon Valley is written we will find out that much of the early entreprenureal efforts were underwritten by illegal drug money.

I know for a fact that some early Silicon Valley venture capital was drug money. The one place I ever lived where I knew my landlord, he had worked for one of the upstart minicomputer companies (which was in turn one of Osborne Associates' first clients) doing investor relations. He wouldn't have been around to be my landlord if the cops who busted him were honest. He was caught with 24 keys of Mexican goldenleaf, six sheets of blotter acid and a jar containing "six ounces of a white powdery substance not submitted as evidence". If it had been, he would not have gotten probation. One of the investors he did relations with brought in his last planeload of pot the week before his eighteenth birthday; once he would have faced charges as an adult he limited his risk-taking to the companies into whom he sank that money.

One of the ways the War on Some Drugs harms the entire country is by making it preferable to put drug money (and there is inevitably going to be drug money) into bling-bling than into startups.

As fot the contribution of drug users to the development of computers? Bill Gates has confirmed the rumor that he got into an argument with a table while tripping at the Microsoft offices. Nolan Bushnell has confirmed that Atari corporate design meetings were intense smokefests. The initial Macintosh project was notorious not for the fact of marijuana use but the amount and openness of it. Bob Widlar, the single most influential designer of analog amplifier chips, altho better known for his drinking, liked to go to Acapulco to binge on the famous gold after every breakthru.

Posted by triticale at January 6, 2005 09:43 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?