What was Tom Perkins’s Net Worth?
Tom Perkins was a businessman and venture capitalist who had a net worth of $8 billion at the time of his death. Tom Perkins co-founded the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins in 1972. One of the earliest and most influential venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, it has backed such companies as America Online, Amazon, Google, Electronic Arts, and Twitter. Among his other endeavors, Perkins held executive positions at Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Corning Glass, and Genentech. Tom Perkins died on June 7, 2016 at the age of 84.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Perkins was born on January 7, 1932 in White Plains, New York. For his higher education, he attended MIT, graduating in 1953 with his BS in electrical engineering and computer science. Perkins went on to obtain his MBA from Harvard University in 1957.
In 1963, Perkins was invited by Bill Hewlett and David Packard to serve as the administrative head of the research department at their company Hewlett-Packard. He soon became the first general manager of HP’s computer divisions, and was integral in ushering the company into the minicomputer business. Also in the 1960s, Perkins launched University Laboratories, where he was the co-developer of the first low-cost He-Ne laser. University Laboratories was later merged into Spectra-Physics.
In 1972, Perkins co-founded the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins with Eugene Kleiner. One of the earliest venture capital firms in Silicon Valley – and the first with an office on the famed Sand Hill Road – Kleiner Perkins eventually added Frank J. Caufield and Brook Byers as partners. The firm specializes in investments in incubation and early-stage and growth companies. Since its founding, Kleiner Perkins has backed hundreds of major ventures, including America Online, Amazon, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Google, Netscape, Synack, and Twitter. By 2019, it had raised around $9 billion in 19 venture capital funds and four growth funds. The New York Times has called Kleiner Perkins “perhaps Silicon Valley’s most famous venture firm,” while the Wall Street Journal has described it as among the “largest and most established” venture capital firms.
Other Executive Positions
Perkins served in numerous executive positions over the decades. He served as a director at such companies as Compaq, Corning Glass, Applied Materials, Genentech, HP, and Philips Electronics, and served as the only chairman of Tandem Computers, which merged with Compaq in 1997. Perkins also sat on the board of directors of Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corporation.
In May of 2006, Perkins resigned from the HP board due to the actions of HP’s general counsel and HP chair Patricia C. Dunn, who had employed a team of independent security experts to covertly investigate board members and journalists in order to find the source of an information leak. The team had used the method of pretexting to obtain Perkins’s and others’ residential phone records, which many considered unethical and possibly illegal.
In early 2014, Perkins drew widespread criticism when he wrote a letter comparing the Occupy movement to Kristallnacht and antisemitism in Nazi Germany. Published in the Wall Street Journal, the letter was roundly condemned by major news publications, bloggers, and Perkins’s own Silicon Valley colleagues. Although he apologized for making comparisons to Nazi Germany, Perkins mostly stood by his letter.
Real Estate and Yachts
Perkins was infamous for his extensive real estate and assets. He had multiple homes in Belvedere, California, and had a penthouse atop the Millennium Tower in San Francisco’s financial district. Additionally, Perkins owned Plumpton Place, an Elizabethan mason in East Sussex, England.
Perkins also had many yachts. In the summer of 2006, he launched a 289-foot sailing yacht called the Maltese Falcon, which was at the time the largest privately owned sailing yacht in the world. He sold the yacht in 2009 for £60 million. A couple years later, Perkins acquired a Japanese fisheries training vessel and converted it into a yacht called Dr. No.
A few months after his death, Perkins’ estate listed his Belvedere, California mansion for $16 million. It sold in March 2017 for $14.46 million.
Involuntary Manslaughter Conviction
In 1996, Perkins was charged and convicted of involuntary manslaughter in France after he raced his yacht into a smaller boat, killing a person on board. He managed to get away with a $10,000 fine.
Perkins penned some books during his lifetime. His first was “Classic Supercharged Sports Cars,” a 1984 book cataloging his pre-World War II collection of classic cars. Later on, he began writing romance novels, releasing “Sex and the Single Zillionaire” in early 2006. The year after that, Perkins published his memoir “Valley Boy: The Education of Tom Perkins.”
Personal Life and Death
Perkins was married twice. His first wife was Gerd Thune-Ellefsen, with whom he had two children. She passed away in 1994. Perkins went on to marry romance novelist Danielle Steel in 1998; they separated the following year before divorcing in 2002.
Following a long illness, Perkins died on June 7, 2016 at his home in Belvedere, California. He was 84 years of age.