Tectonic Shift in Tech

| April 4, 2012


That the technology business is on the brink of another tectonic shift with innovations in big data, cloud computing and mobility was just one observation Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Managing Partner Ray Lane offered Tuesday.

Another was that his new role as executive chairman at Hewlett-Packard stirred up concern at Kleiner Perkins with some partners unhappy over his dual responsibilities.

A third was that H-P is thinking afresh about how startups can help it deliver emerging technology to customers. Lane helped kick off the OnDemand 2012 conference in Silicon Valley on Tuesday afternoon with an on-stage interview and an explanation that he has come to enjoy venture capital, even though he was unsure what the job required when he joined Kleiner in 2000.

Lane made it clear he is jazzed about innovations taking place in Silicon Valley and across high tech. “What’s going on now is as important as the Internet change we saw in the mid 1990s,” he said. “This is a major shift.”

At one time, only enterprise computers generated so-called big data, he said. Now mobile devices, such as smartphones, do.

Lane said H-P is trying to do a better job working with young companies. “Big companies by and large don’t keep their ear to the ground,” he said. “I think they think they do.”

H-P has set up an organization now that focuses on enterprise computing. There is a good match between a young company’s agility and H-P’s scale, he said.

On the other hand, taking on the executive chairman’s role at H-P last year was a move some Kleiner Perkins partners didn’t like, he said. Lane is now working closely with new CEO Meg Whitman, devoting a slice of his work week to offer advice in areas such as software, services and enterprise computing.

He said he is at the company two to three times a week, hence the title executive chairman. “I’m no longer objective,” he said of his role on the board. “I’m on the inside.”

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