Sex and the Single Zillionaire
From academic treatises to romance novels: Venture capitalist Tom Perkins has taken a leap.india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 19:20 IST
Tom Perkins secured a place in high-tech lore long ago as the co-founder of a venture capital firm that financed revolutionary companies like Genentech Inc. and Google Inc. For his next big breakthrough, Perkins hopes to rival his ex-wife, best-selling author Danielle Steel, as a romance novelist. His first book, Sex and the Single Zillionaire, was just published.
Perkins concedes it's no masterpiece, but that hasn't stopped him from dreaming about the book shooting to the top of the charts, just as so many of his ex-wife's have.
"If that happened, it would rank right up there with anything else I've done in my career," the 73-year-old Perkins said during a recent interview.
The book represents an unlikely new direction for Perkins, who is best-known as a Silicon Valley titan who first helped build Hewlett Packard Co.'s computer business before setting out on his own to help spawn promising start-ups. His previous literary offerings consisted of an examination of sports cars and an academic treatise called Experiments in Physical Optics Using Coherent Laser Light.
In 1972, he and Eugene Kleiner launched a venture capital firm that eventually morphed into Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. After putting the firm on the map by backing Tandem Computer and Genentech during the 1970s, Perkins invested in many other huge deals, including the one that helped launch Google. Along the way, he accumulated a wealth of colourful tales, but Perkins says he doubts he will ever write about any of them. "If I were to ever really tell it like it is, there wouldn't be anything left by the time the lawyers got done with it," he said. Perkins decided to try his hand at fiction after a television producer tried to persuade him to star in a reality series that would have featured young women vying for his affection. The role didn't appeal to Perkins, but the idea did. He thought the concept would work as a novel and pitched the idea to Steel, who has remained a friend since their 1999 divorce. They married a few years after Perkins's first wife died of cancer in 1994. Steel, whose more than 60 books focus primarily on love and lust, encouraged Perkins to write the story himself and promised to help with the editing.
Sex and The Single Zillionaire revolves around Steven Hudson, a rich widower in his 60s who goes on a reality-TV show and winds up falling in love with the producer instead of the much-younger ladies courting him.
Perkins isn't banking on making zillions from the book; he agreed to donate any profits to his alma mater, Harvard University. But if Sex and the Single Zillionaire is successful, Perkins plans to continue his friendly competition with Steel by writing another novel, this one about a financial scandal in Silicon Valley. And what if Steel were to challenge him by dabbling in venture capital?
"She has joked about doing that, but I don't think any us of in the business would be too terrified," Perkins said.