Colin Powell Joins Venture Capital Firm

From Dow Jones/Associated Press

Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has joined one of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture capital firms.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on Wednesday said Powell joined the firm this month as a strategic limited partner, a position created for him.

Powell will offer strategic advice to the firm and its portfolio companies, said John Doerr, a general partner at the Menlo Park, Calif., venture firm.


Powell is not expected to sponsor new investments or join the boards of companies on a regular basis, the firm said.

As a limited partner, however, Powell will have a financial stake in Kleiner Perkins. “I have a position in the company and in their funds,” he said.

Powell, 68, resigned as secretary of state in November. Previously, he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

After leaving the government in January, he said, he considered various business opportunities and was approached in March by Doerr.

“I have known John Doerr and a number of the other Kleiner Perkins partners for years,” Powell said.

“John Doerr said, ‘Let’s talk about what we might do together.’ So I went out and visited with Google and spent some time with some of their other investments.”

Powell said that led him to conclude that “I could make a contribution to what Kleiner Perkins is doing. They thought likewise.”

Powell said he would retain his base in the Washington area but planned to visit the West Coast regularly and work via videoconference.

He described his role as “neither a rainmaker nor a lobbyist” but rather mentor and coach. He said he expected to offer strategic advice on leadership and organizational issues.

“From time to time, Kleiner Perkins will ask me to visit the companies under consideration, give my assessment of various parts of the world,” Powell said.

He added that he would not look for venture deals but “if anything comes my way, I’d certainly refer it to them.”

Powell said he was especially interested in healthcare, alternative energy and what he called the “search-engine revolution -- how best to use information technology not just for America but for the rest of the world.”

He said he acquired “something of a background” in the technology business while at the State Department, where he oversaw the installation of broadband technology for that branch of the federal government.

The tenure of his son, Michael, as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission until he resigned in March also brought technology issues “into the home,” he said.

Powell served on the board of America Online before its merger with Time Warner Inc. He also is an investor in and a board member of Revolution Health Group, a Washington-based healthcare venture launched by former AOL co-founder Steve Case.