September 12, 2006
As I read the news this morning about the pending resignation of H-P Board Chair Patricia Dunn I found myself feeling a bit defensive about Silicon Valley’s reputation. And then I remembered the real story here. And it is not the story we’ve been reading about over the last week or so. No, the real story, the one that matters, is the tale of how Tom Perkins put his personal reputation, which he surely knew would come under attack, on the line to unmask behavior that he thought was wrong. The easy thing for Mr. Perkins to do would have been to look the other way and sweep the matter under the rug, as it appears everyone else in the know at H-P was apparently willing to do.
Instead, when Perkins was confronted with evidence of wrong-doing he resigned immediately, disassociated himself from the conduct and then did everything he could within the rules to bring the law-breaking to light. I’ve never met Tom Perkins. But I did have a chance to meet H-P’s legendary founders, Bill Hewlett and David Packard, the latter of whom once wrote me a treasured letter of support. I’m certain they would be embarrassed by the recent scandal at H-P. But my best guess is that they would have done what Mr. Perkins did. And that is the real story: that Silicon Valley still has people like Tom Perkins.