September 14-15, 2016 GSVlabs, Silicon Valley, USA

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What We Learned From Silicon Valley Legends

What We Learned From Silicon Valley Legends

This year, more so than any other prior year, I have come to appreciate Silicon Valley not only as a unique place for technology, innovation and business success stories, but as a special community of people who value making a contribution to the world and the people around them.

Earlier this month, we had the great honor of hosting the 2015 GSV Hall of Fame Celebration at the Pioneer Summit (highlights) with four individuals — Bill Campbell, Diane Greene, Dick Kramlich, and Larry Sonsini — who have made a lifetime contribution to Silicon Valley and changed the world for good. We also honored Mike Homer posthumously. We were all excited to watch the video tribute that so many of Silicon Valley’s leaders, including Omid Kordestani, Scott Cook, Bill Gurley, Jennifer Bailey, Ben Horowitz, contributed to.

What do the Hall of Fame inductees all have in common?

Well what I realized was that these people weren’t outstanding based on their skills and abilities — there are many intelligent and hardworking people in the world. The thing that I realized that separated the Hall of Famers was that they all had strong values and were respected more for their humanity than just their abilities.

I chose to highlight a few of the qualities we heard about these individuals while filming their tribute videos and within the Silicon Valley community. While I highlight a particular quality about each inductee, these are by no means comprehensive.

1. Loyalty — many of Larry’s colleagues and clients have decided to work with him for years and in some cases decades because of his strong loyalty. Even as his client list expanded to some of the largest companies around the world, Larry maintained relationships with his earliest clients and friends. The titans of the technology world again and again seek out Larry for advice on their most important corporate challenges.

“Larry Sonsini has played a role in building and advising some of the most successful companies in existence today,” said Elon Musk, Chairman of TeslaMotors, “His guidance will be invaluable as Tesla Motors drives forward the electric transport revolution and grows to become one of the great car companies of the 21st century.”

2. Kindness — people know Bill as a key driving force in building Intuit from a startup to the largest publicly list financial technology company and as a confidant for Steve Jobs since his return to Apple in 1997 as they took the company from near bankruptcy to the most valuable company in the world. What people might not know about Bill, if you haven’t met him, is his incredible kindness to everyone he meets. He has mentored and helped countless entrepreneurs and others in Silicon Valley, Columbia University (where he chaired the Board of Trustees), and his hometown of Homestead, PA. Bill doesn’t care if you are the CEO of a huge company or working an entry level job, as long as you are passionate and genuine about helping the world and your community, Bill will be there to offer his guidance and support.

3. Persistence — in his career, Dick has invested in ten companies that have grown from startup stage to over $1 billion in market value. He is not only persistently looking for great entrepreneurs to partner with, he has steadfast belief in the companies he backs and works with them for many years through good times and tough times to try to achieve important business and societal outcomes.

4. Courage — Mike was one of the first people to join Netscape that brought to the world the Internet era. They had to compete with Microsoft which was the dominate technology company at the time and Mike was a constant source of creativity and energy for the entire time. Many of Mike’s protégés said in their video tributes that whenever they face a difficult challenge they would ask themselves “what would Mike Homer do in this situation?”

“We all live in a better world today thanks to the efforts of those who fought the original browser wars. Technology history records many of them: Marc Andreessen, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Jim Barksdale to name a few, but people who were there will tell you there was none more important or impactful than the late great Mike Homer.”

— Ben Horowitz, Co-Founder and General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz in“Why the Browser Matters.”

5. Humility — Diane co-founded VMware and was its first CEO leading it to a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Importantly, she took virtualization from a theoretical concept and built a large company out of it while competing with giant corporations in enterprise computing. Diane is humble and prefers to give credit to her team and personally stay out of the spotlight. She continues to bring high expectations and fresh thinking to Intuit, Google, Khan Academy, and MIT where she is a board member.

“Diane is a special person who combines a sharp business acumen with a brilliant technical mind,” said Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google.“We know she will be a great contributor and we are grateful to have her insight.”

What unites all of them beside their individual values is the collective effort to give as much of themselves back to the community that supported their personal achievements. All of the inductees spends an enormous amount of their time now serving the next generation of companies, educational and philanthropic organizations, and people in the Silicon Valley community. They openly give their time to mentor people from establish CEOs to students who are still exploring the world. What makes the Hall of Fame inductees unique is not their ability, but rather their humanity. Their efforts along with many other important leaders is what makes Silicon Valley a unique community to work and live in.

— Li Jiang @gsvpioneer


The GSV Pioneer Summit, September 13-15, 2016, is an annual gathering of the world’s most forward-thinking technology leaders, investors and rising stars who are working together to build a stronger society. Meet 100+ founders and CEOs building the next game-changing companies and the investors who have backed the most-notable startups in Silicon Valley. Register today.

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