Silicon Valley & paying it forward

On Friday, I had coffee with Mike Abbott, who in past life had worked at Microsoft, Palm and Twitter becoming recently joining venture firm, Kleiner Perkins. I first met Mike in 2005 through Saar Gur (now at Charles River Ventures) and since then we have become friends, only when his and my professional affiliations didn’t come in the way.

Having known Mike for a long time, and not having caught up about all things personal, the chat was mostly about personal matters – kids, family, where we were in life and our respective professional careers. We also talked about another person we have in common, someone who has been hugely influential in our lives — late Rajeev Motwani.

Rajeev, who was an investor in Mikes first company, was more well known for his work at Stanford and later for his investment in Google, but in reality what he really was a connector of people, someone who had time to help out others. He was someone who helped me get connected to a lot of people in the Valley, despite not knowing me quite well.  Those connections helped me become a better reporter.

That act of sharing and connecting had a huge impact on me as a person, and it has become a doctrine for life. Mike too had a similar experience with Rajeev and has adopted “pay it forward” as a mantra for life. He was on his way to talk to a company about their infrastructure – and he knows a thing or two about infrastructure – even though he didn’t have any business interest in that company.

Hopefully, his actions will prompt others he touches in his life to help others without any pre-requirements or advisory shares or anything. Today, we can indulge in a lot of social media chest thumping and be self congratulatory about ephemeral milestones, but in the end it is the “pay it forward” philosophy that matters. It is what has helped Silicon Valley produce generations of successful founders. In these times when the spectacle of technology has become the center of attention, it is important to remember that.

A letter from Om

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