Randy Komisar, Partner KPCB: Innovation is Distributed Around the Planet Wherever there are Smart People

The truth is that innovation is distributed around the planet, wherever there are smart people and that’s everywhere. Innovation is just part of the creative drive, the human condition to solve problems & create. And there’s no significant advantage to growing up here in Silicon Valley versus growing up in Bhutan to be able to solve great problems. The advantage is as follows: Whilst innovation may be evenly spread & distributed around the world, entrepreneurship is a profession, entrepreneurship has a best practice. And the best practice of entrepreneurship on the planet remains in Silicon Valley. That’s not to say there aren’t great practice areas around the world, there are. That’s not to say that Silicon Valley will be the best practice of entrepreneurship 10 years from now, it may not? But it took 70 years for Silicon Valley to create a culture of risk taking, to create an environment of resources & investment & more importantly to create an expectation that great minds would invest in great minds. Not just money in great minds but their minds in great minds to help create the next new thing. That’s something that I find missing in other cultures. When I talk to my European counterparts in particular to European entrepreneurs, they tell me two things. They tell me if they try & fail in Europe its a personal failure not just a business failure. That’s not the case in Silicon Valley. In Silicon Valley if that were the case we would not have far fewer risk takers & far fewer entrepreneurs than we have today. Business values are business values and if you fail for the right reasons, which is pretty much any reason other than being corrupt, stupid or lazy then you have an education. Then you are more valuable. The other thing the entrepreneurs in Europe tell me is when somebody is successful in Europe, an entrepreneur has a big win, they disappear from the scene. They retire, they buy a yacht, they do whatever they’re going to do. But they don’t do what happens here in Silicon Valley, reinvest themselves in the next generation. And until you have generation upon generation re-investing themselves in the success, the guidance, the mentoring of the next generation then you don’t have a real fly wheel mechanism in your entrepreneurial culture.

Randy Komisar

This interview was originally recorded in July 2010