Thomas Perkins: The financier of many tech companies

One of the businessmen who built Silicon Valley into a tech city was born in New York, USA on January 7, 1932. His name was Thomas James Perkins, the co-founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm that provided initial funds for Google, Amazon, Sun Microsystems, and many other famous technology companies.

Thomas Perkins
Thomas Perkins (Credit: The Telegraph)

Thomas was the son of an insurance salesman father and a seamstress mother. As a child, he assembled television sets and dreamed of becoming a TV repairman. He obtained an engineering and computer science degree from MIT and MBA from Harvard University in 1957. He joined Sperry Gyroscope Company in New York and later moved to California where he worked with several startups.

In 1963, Thomas started working at the research department of Hewlett-Packard. Subsequently, he was transferred to the computer division where he was credited for the development of HP’s minicomputer business. In 1972, Thomas partnered with Eugene Kleiner to form an investment company with a focus on the emerging IT industry. Later, they were joined by Frank Caufield and Brook Byers. One of their first clients was Tandem Computers which later invited Thomas to serve as its chairman of the board. Other clients that hit big time were Genentech (acquired by Roche), Applied Materials, Netscape, and AOL. The company also provided funds for Amazon and Google in the succeeding decades.

Though he claimed not to be a billionaire, Thomas still remained an influential figure in the business circle and his actions and words are immediately reported in the media. In 2014, the venture capital company he helped found distanced itself from Thomas due to the controversy arising from a comment he made about the persecution of Jews by the German Nazis.

Thomas died in 2016 at the age of 84. He married twice and had 2 children with his first wife.


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