Bill Gurley - Runnin' Down a Dream


Bill Gurley is a beast in the venture capital world. He is the tall guy on the left in the picture above. He’s the general partner at Benchmark, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm in Menlo Park, California. He is listed consistently on the Forbes Midas List and is considered one of technology’s top dealmakers. Benchmark is a truly unique venture capital firm. We talk about how the firm is different from others in this member post [HERE]. Not a Member? Join Now.

Bill recently tweeted out a recording of a presentation he gave to students at the University of Texas. We had this incredible presentation transcribed for members [HERE].

This is one of the best presentations you will watch this year.

I took a few snapshots of some of the slides. Great stuff.

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Bill Gurley - Runnin' Down a Dream Transcript

@iancassel great presentation.

This is exactly the whole premise of what we’re doing here at Intelligent Fanatics:

  1. Develop mentors in your field and elsewhere - we’ve been gathering mentors who’ve achieved in a wide variety of fields - business, investing, music and elsewhere. I’ve been trying to learn as much from them and then apply those learnings. While the connection has been indirect, it’s still effective. Although, I believe that when possible a direct mentorship is most effective, it is not always possible.
  2. Develop deep relationships with peers that are on the same journey - we’re building the community to over time help members develop those deep relationships with other members (not necessarily in the same field) who are on the same journey. As I’ve said, this will be an area we will be focusing on in the future.
  3. One day we can be the mentors to help the next group coming up the ladder.


Thanks for sharing guys. Think it is bang on with the last thing being one of the most rewarding parts when you can. One thing I would add is in the early stages note where your mentors / successful peers were at your stage not where they are them, what were their decisions (cash/ interest/ passion/ social envy etc.)…then try to make you’re own path aligned to how they did it (not what they did)! This is very different to trying to become them (ie become the next buffett with his position of earned trust, capital and responsibility in his 80’s). Be your own version of them using your talents and strengths - if you don’t you’re guaranteed a different result (and unhappiness regardless of outcome)


@Paul that’s absolutely right. As we wrote in our 2nd book Standing on the Shoulders of Giants:

“‘The leader is the leader precisely because he did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is taken now—so it’s no longer remarkable when you decide to do it.’ Copying and pasting the exact methods or business models of past intelligent fanatics—without mindful recognition, interpretation, and creativity—will lead to subpar results.

Consider the many members of the Association of Professional Elvis Presley Tribute Artists: thousands have made a living impersonating Elvis, but none will ever reach the success attained by the original. You don’t want to look just like your hero; you want to see like them. You want to have their mental models based on their experiences. Artists like Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, and nearly every famous Western rock singer in the past fifty years was influenced in some capacity by Elvis."


I had a few mentors early on in my investing journey and still do quite honestly. But a couple of them early on I would say weren’t perfect. Certain areas of business they flourished and others they failed, another was successful in investing but a failure as a father/husband. But I still learned a great deal from them and was aware enough to notice the weaknesses. And we all have weaknesses. I think the point I’d like to make is mentors don’t have to be perfect. It’s crucial to not get locked into “hero worship”. The key is finding individuals that are successful in areas you want to be successful in and learning from them in those areas and not becoming judgemental or disappointed in the areas they are deficient. I’ve had an amazing relationship with leader from my church who I learn from about spirituality, passing on biblical principles to my kids, etc. I’m not asking him about how to run a business. So I think it’s good to have mentors and be intentional with the areas you seek those mentors in and be realistic about the fact that no one is perfect.