Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great horsemen of the Internet'

Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great horsemen of the Internet'

Summary: Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple are setting the pace for innovation online, said Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr at the TechCrunch: Disrupt conference.

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Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple are the "four great horsemen of the Internet," and they're setting the pace for innovation online, John Doerr said.

Speaking to Charlie Rose this morning at the TechCrunch: Disrupt conference in New York City, the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner said we're on the cusp of a "third great wave" of innovation, following the first -- the microchip and the personal computer -- and the second: the Internet, the browser and the search engine.

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"It's a combination of social and mobile and new kinds of commerce," Doerr said. "We could be on the verge of reinventing the web. The web is people and places and relationships. That's a very exciting thing."

Doerr brought his Apple iPad on stage, and lauded the device as a portal to a "whole new app economy" filled with services that are "enabled by relationships between people."

"This tablet, this iPad, is not some kind of big iPod," Doerr said. "This is a new paradigm. And we're just at the beginning."

"It's not a computer. You don't need files. You don't need mice. It's magic, you know? What you see is what you touch. I think Steve re-imagined a whole new experience. This are immersive magical new kinds of surfaces."

Responding to Rose's question about the Apple-Adobe scuffle, Doerr admitted batteries remain a Stone Age-esque problem in the consumer electronics industry.

"Battery is key. Battery improvement is coming very slowly," he said. "There are some disruptive things over the edge of the horizon, but it's been painfully slow.

"Work needs to be done by entrepreneurs. We've just begun. These things are going to have 10 times the memory and be five times as fast. These things will be here in three to five years."

Mentioning Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Pincus and other prominent technology entrepreneurs -- "They were caught in a desperate, deep love affair with their companies," he said -- Doerr said disruption comes down to culture, outlining two groups of entrepreneurs: mercenaries and missionaries.

"This is about culture. In tech companies whether it's silicon alley or silicon valley, you can see these types of cultures. The mercenaries...are driven by fear. the missionaries are driven by passion.

"Mercenaries, they're motivated by financial statements. There's sometimes a sense of entitlement. The missionary cultures are all about value statements. Mercenaries have an incredible lust for making money. Missionaries are into making meaning and money.

"When you look at Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos, these people have turned down offers....it's because they're on a mission. Product is our most important progress."

Mentioning social mobile gaming network Zynga -- the parent company of FarmVille and Kleiner Perkins' fastest growing venture ever -- Doerr said the convergence of social networks and mobile was core to the "third wave's" success.

"I think we're seeing changes in consumer behavior, and it's also happening in new commerce," Doerr said, mentioning online fashion retailer One King's Lane. "History tells us that one of the keys to all these businesses is that they have strong network connects."

Doerr also discussed the recently-announced Google TV, which he said is the next step in the convergence of home theater and the Internet.

"I think for the last time, we've watched the Super Bowl without the Internet on your lap and on your screen," Doerr said. "The Internet and the TV are finally coming together in the living room, and I think the tablets and Google TV are going to do it."

Changing gears, Doerr discussed the Google-China snafu, in which the search giant pulled out of the country after facing blowback on its unadulterated search results.

"China now has more Internet users than the U.S. does," Doerr said. "It's a big market, it's very rapidly growing. It's going to be a very tough market for Western companies to participate in.

"Google takes a very principled point of view and it is a medium and it has to be very objective. You can't buy position in their network.

"For a state to say we're going to censor it, didn't work for the founders of Google. So they they stepped away in a meaningful way."

Still, Doerr said Google was one of four American Internet companies that are changing its landscape forever.

"Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple -- I think those are the four great horsemen of the Internet," Doerr said. "They're really setting the pace. They're not limited by market. They're limited by their ability to execute -- to get great, smart people."

Discussing disruption, Doerr said the next phase of the Internet drops the "computing" aspect of it entirely for a more natural way to interact.

"There's another technology that's key -- a new kind of immersive relationship between you and the medium," he said. "Point and it happens, not point and click and mouse around. Instead of taking the web and have websites be framed, it's a cool, new immersive experience. Things like cover flow from Apple or CoolIris. These interfaces are going to get radically improved."

Doerr said he was excited for the iPad's implications for the healthcare industry.

"Our doctor's offices are still driven by paper," Doerr said. "I don't see any reason why every doctor or nurse...won't have one."

He also said it would "transform" education.

"We'll get beyond the heavy, lobbying, state-provided textbooks," he said. "Its marginal cost will be zero."

Finally, speaking of Russia and China's efforts to create their own Silicon Valleys, Doerr lamented the lack of American participation in what he sees as the new infotech -- the cleantech industry.

"The one I worry about is energy," he said. "We continue to shift a billion dollars a day out of this country. The U.S. was the worldwide leader in the creation of the Internet andthe biotechnology industries.

Doerr said of all the advanced wind, batteries and solar companies, only four were American: one wind, one battery and two solar firms.

"We have got to get in this race and get in this game," Doerr said. "Otherwise we're going to be buying our energy future from other parts of the world."

Photos: Andrew Mager/Flickr

Topics: Networking, Browser, Collaboration, Google, Hardware, Social Enterprise

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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24 comments
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  • Facepalm

    They *do* know what the "four horsemen" actually refer to, don't they? (lauging)

    You know, Death, War, Pestilence and Famine? The four horsemen of the Apocalypse? Are they seriously thinking Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon are the end of the (online) world?

    Oh wait...hmm. Given the privacy and customer support issues and the take-no-prisoners-it-belongs-to-us attitude of these companies...

    Maybe they have a point after all? :)
    wolf_z
    • RE: Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great horsemen of the Internet'

      @wolf_z LOL...funny. You would think they would have thought of that before naming it.
      ItsTheBottomLine
    • RE: Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great horsemen of the Internet'

      Thanks, @wolf_z ! I was going to say this exact thing, and you nailed it for me!
      redfoxnorth@...
    • RE: Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great horsemen of the Internet'

      @wolf_z

      That's what I thought when I first read the title too.

      ...wonder which one is Death...
      wcb42ad
      • RE: Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great horsemen of the Internet'

        @wcb42ad That's a simple one.

        Apple = Death (of their competition in practices that make Microsoft, even in the 90s, seem like Mother Theresa, even if no one has the guts to admit it)
        Facebook = Pestilence (privacy issues, like little annoying insects, just won't go away)
        Google = War (against Apple, Yahoo, and Microsoft)
        Amazon = Famine (we want so much, and get so little)

        I do have to admit. While we all realize this is about the furthest thing from what the guy meant, it fits so appropriately. To misspeak so badly suggests to me that this guy would make a great politician. At least, if he were, he could just say that he was misunderstood and sweep the comment under the rug.

        --Master Joe
        SteelCityPC
      • RE: Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great

        @wcb42ad Google is obviously pestilence, the pestilence of advertisers using the information Google sells them.
        hill60
  • RE: Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great horsemen of the Internet'

    Not to worry, eventually each company will build up a powerful IT organization and then the rot will set in, just like it does in every other company.

    Just as long as they take out Microsoft before they sputter into middle age...
    tburzio
    • Seeing how that isn't happening

      you know, the part about taking out Microsoft, or the part about sputtering into middle age, I can see that you have a promising future as a bridge jumper.

      Just make sure my boat isn't under you when you decide to jump :)
      John Zern
      • Master Joe Says...Agreed

        @John Zern I agree with you. What an utterly stupid thing to say. Even if their comment had been a full page long, that single bit of it would absolutely have destroyed all credibility of anything else they might have said. Perhaps they could make their living renting out the empty space in their head to insects looking for a home?

        --Master Joe
        SteelCityPC
      • Master windoze_washer says...

        [i]you know, the part about taking out Microsoft, or the part about sputtering into middle age, I can see that you have a promising future as a bridge jumper.[/i]

        @John Zern
        Seeings how he's talking about your employer, I can see how you'd be concerned. ;)
        ubiquitous one
  • iPad and doctors

    Doerr said he was excited for the iPad?s implications for the healthcare industry.
    ?Our doctor?s offices are still driven by paper,? Doerr said. ?I don?t see any reason why every doctor or nurse?won?t have one.?
    Apart from American doctors being far behind the times as doctors in Britain have been computerised for years they are in danger of jumping too far in trying to catch up. If they use iPads or similar devices they will need wireless connection with plenty of security problems that wired systems do not have.
    misceng
    • Master Joe Says...The Real Point

      @misceng I actually want to knwo why it is that the iPad is considered by this guy to be so far superior to the massive amount of Android tablets about to flood the market? Do we just treat Apple like some sort of minority, and give them a handicapped score these days because they struggled so badly through the 90s? The iPod, iPhone, and iPad ALL have competition, and ALL have competition that offers better offerings. Don't get me wrong. I've used Apple products before (namely iPod and MacBook Pro). They have something to be said for them. But, they are hardly innovative, nor are they anywhere close to the industry standard or leader. Over-priced hardware, an operating system (Mac OS X) that leaves so much to be desired, and such tight vendor lockdown you feel like you can't breathe is what we promote now? That's a pretty scary future, if this is what we support for the tech industry.

      --Master Joe
      SteelCityPC
      • RE: Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great

        @MasterJoe I think "about to flood the market" explains why he's talking about the iPad. Maybe he'll change his tune after the flood, but I'd guess he's waiting to see what's in the flood before commenting on it.
        levinson
      • maybe the ipad is considered superior...

        @MasterJoe
        ... because there are no android tablets.

        and most people buy apple products because they think they are innovative and superior. it is the best offering. maybe, just maybe your preconceptions make you blind.
        banned from zdnet
      • Master windoze_washer says...

        @MasterJoe says...
        [i]I actually want to knwo why it is that the iPad is considered by this guy to be so far superior to the massive amount of Android tablets about to flood the market?[/i]

        @Master windoze_washer says...
        "Massive amount"? You mean like the massive Slate?

        lol...

        Until we see them appear on the market and outsell the iPad, this is nothing more than vaporware for the highest bidder.
        ubiquitous one
  • Not sure why the iPad and Apple is listed

    They are not an internet company and do not innovate on the internet. They build products that access the internet and some products, only some of the internet. Their main internet product "Mobile Me" has not had good success. There are people using it but then there are people using Apple TV as well.
    Yax_to_the_Max
    • success

      @Yax_to_the_Max
      how do you know mobile me hasn't been a success. just asking.
      banned from zdnet
    • RE: Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great horsemen of the Internet'

      @Yax_to_the_Max
      I agree Apple is not a web innovator. The IPad is stifler or censor of innovation :(
      randall.shimizu@...
  • RE: Kleiner Perkins' Doerr: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple the 'four great horsemen of the Internet'

    kleiner perkins has an uncanny ability to brag about itself without bragging. why didn't doerr mention the russian money in zynga? oh.
    but, as a force for change with traditional stability (that is, the old money stays phat) kpcb is perhaps the major player in the western world.
    gabrielbear@...
  • LOL - Apple on the internet seriously?

    stop talking about toys. When I want to talk about the REAL internet, I start dealing with Google/MSFT.
    MSFTWorshipper