Beth Seidenberg On What’s Ahead For Biotech - San Jose Mercury News

Beth Seidenberg On What’s Ahead For Biotech - San Jose Mercury News

Welcome back to Elevator Pitch, where we put top tech investors under the microscope. And speaking of microscopes, this week’s guest is Dr. Beth Seidenberg, who heads up life sciences investing at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. A physician who trained at Johns Hopkins and the NIH, Seidenberg joined Kleiner Perkins in 2005 after a stint as chief medical officer of biotech giant Amgen. She’s since founded or incubated five startups within Kleiner’s walls, and the firm has notched five biotech IPOs this year alone, (not to mention having another portfolio company acquired in a $400 million deal.)

Q: HOW’D YOU GET INTO THIS RACKET?

A: After 15-plus years in operating roles at biotech and pharmaceutical companies, I decided to focus my energy on building companies rather than building products. I was introduced to Brook Byers by the venture capitalist Pitch Johnson, who was on the board of Amgen. Brook and I hit it off, and I decided to try my hand as an investor.

When I first joined the firm, I was still mulling whether I was better suited to being a VC or a CEO. After a year of getting my sea legs on the investing side, though, I found that I was having more fun than I’d ever had — and that investing was for me.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT VENTURE CAPITAL?

A: I love working with entrepreneurs and helping them build iconic companies. When I first joined KPCB, Brook told me that this was a helping profession. As a physician, I am wired to help people, which made this job a perfect fit.

The job gives me a chance to blend creativity with my operating experience and network. Every day is challenging and different. Working at KPCB, I get the chance to see and meet amazing entrepreneurs who are passionate about digital technology, life sciences and green tech – and those contacts bring a constant stream of new insights and ideas. There’s not a more interesting job on the planet….