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Randy Komisar

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Randy Komisar joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers as a partner in 2005. Several years prior, Komisar partnered with entrepreneurs creating businesses with leading edge technologies.

He was a co-founder of Claris Corporation, he served as CEO for LucasArts Entertainment and Crystal Dynamics, and he's acted as a "virtual CEO" for such companies as WebTV, Mirra, and GlobalGiving. He was a founding Director of TiVo where he remains current chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee. Earlier, Komisar served as CFO of GO Corporation and as Senior Counsel for Apple Computer, following a private practice in technology law.

Komisar holds a BA in Economics from Brown University and a JD from Harvard Law School. He is a Consulting Professor of Entrepreneurship at Stanford University and author of the best-selling book The Monk and the Riddle, as well as several articles on leadership and entrepreneurship. His most recent book with co-author John Mullins is Getting to Plan B.

Companies and Investments

Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (Partner) Claris (Co-founder) LucasArts Entertainment (CEO)

Lessons Learned

Don’t have deferred life plans Randy sees many entrepreneurs want to make a lot of money and then realize some other life goal. He thinks this is dangerous because more often than not, the pot of gold doesn’t come. It’s better if an entrepreneur can integrate his real passions into his startup. Randy used to work at a law firm and was doing okay. One day he received an offer to work at Apple. He looked in the corridor of the law firm, saw a predictable path for the future, but one that did not harness his creativity, something he valued. He chose to work at Apple instead, and went on to work at Claris. He found both experiences very fulfilling, both in personal and business terms.

The Art of Leadership Keeping the trains running on time is managing but effective leadership is something more. In his book “Monk and the Riddle“, Randy gives an example of former Claris CEO Bill Campbell, who had people on his team that enjoyed working together and enjoyed their work. There was just something magnetic about him that got people to put in their 110% and do more because they want to. Such leadership is critical in a startup, because when the going gets tough, and it inevitably gets tough, there needs to be more than promises of wages and stock options to keep people together. For instance, after succeeding with Claris, Bill went on to found GO, a company that aimed at using a pen for input and navigating a computer. The company didn’t do well because the technology wasn’t mature enough, but because of Bill, no one jumped ship and everyone stuck with him till the end.

Recognize the risks beyond control Startup founders need to realize that there are always going to major factors that are outside their control. Accepting this fact is key to figuring out how to maximizing the odds of success. Randy believes that if you’re brilliant, 15-20% of the risk is removed. If you work 24 hours a day, another 15-20% of the risk is removed. But the remaining 60-70% of the business risk will be completely out of your control. The only thing you can control is your excellence.

Inspiring Quotes

Randy Komisar's Quotes

Randy Komisar - And then there is the most dangerous risk of all -- the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.

Randy Komisar - Only the Whole Life Plan leads to personal success. It has the greatest chance of providing satisfaction and contentment that one can take to the grave, tomorrow. In the Deferred Life Plan there will always be another prize to covet, another distraction, a new hunger to sate. You will forever come up short.

Influential Books

- Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku


Bill Campbell, Mohammed Ali