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How an Old Guy Got the Edge on an Industry That Reveres Youth—Data Sheet

July 9, 2019, 12:49 PM UTC
Elisabeth Fall

Jeff Jordan is a bit of an oddity in Silicon Valley.

He’s a near introvert. His career blossomed in the shadow of more famous executives. He never made it to the top of a major technology company. He’s even open about his failures, including a brief stint running a dot-bomb startup in the Internet 1.0 era and a disastrous investment in his first days as a venture capitalist.

For all that, what makes Jordan unusual is his success. He rose high at Disney and eBay before running OpenTable. As a not-exactly-young VC in the early days of Andreessen Horowitz he made early investments in Airbnb and Pinterest. Since then he has added Instacart, another apparent win, and Lime, a high-profile if risky bet.

Jordan is 60. He tried to retire and found out he wasn’t good at it. “I biked every single mountain path like 50 times, and then when I started doing them for the second time, I said, ‘Okay, it’s time to get a job,’ ” he told Fortune’s Polina Marinova for her revealing profile in the current issue of the magazine. In the article (which Aaron also excerpted last week), Jordan comes off as human (he admits his mistakes), honest (he’s not too humble to mention his ranking among VCs), and competitive as all get-out.

But my favorite takeaway is the closest thing Jordan has to a secret sauce. It’s an oldie but a goodie: Pattern recognition. Because he has seen so much, his experience actually matters in making venture-capital investments. In an industry that reveres youth, the old guy has an edge.

Jordan will be appearing in Aspen next week at Brainstorm Tech, not his first. Younger investors ought to stick close to him there. They might learn something.

Adam Lashinsky


Seeing a little too much. There's a flaw in the way the popular Zoom video conferencing app works on Mac computers that could allow a malicious web site to turn on a user's camera. The only solution right now appear to be to check a box in Zoom's settings to "Turn off my video when joining a meeting." Oh, and just uninstalling the app doesn't remove the vulnerability.

Launching. Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, will become a publicly-traded company via a deal with an already-public special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. The SPAC in question, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, is controlled by Chamath Palihapitiya, head of VC firm Social Capital.

Failure is an option. A survey of companies using artificial intelligence by IDC found only 25% had an overall A.I. strategy. Also one-quarter of respondents said they experienced a failure rate of over 50% on A.I. projects.

The room where it happens. The Trump administration is planning a social media summit this week, but Thursday's White House event apparently won't include attendees from Facebook or Twitter. Who will be there? A host of conservative media players, including pseudonymous right-wing meme creator CarpeDonktum.

Changing of the guard. The head of Mark Zuckerberg's personal security resigned after an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and racism, Business Insider reports. Former Secret Service officer Liam Booth resigned even though the probe found no evidence to substantiate the charges.

Informing the masses. If you want more in-depth coverage of artificial intelligence, don't forget to subscribe to our new weekly Eye on A.I. newsletter. The newest issue comes out later today.


African tech giant Naspers hired Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa as CEO of its South African media and e-commerce group. Mahanyele-Dabengwa is former executive chair of Sigma Capital and former CEO of Shanduka Energy...The former head of Intel's client computing group, Anand Srivatsa, joined eye-tracking tech startup Tobii Technology as CEO...Microsoft's Github hired former Bitnami COO and co-founder Erica Brescia as its COO. VMware recently bought Bitnami...In crypto hiring news, BAM Trading Services, which will run Binance's U.S. exchange, hired Catherine Coley as CEO. Coley had been head of institutional liquidity at Ripple.


It was Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman who first dreamed up the idea for a "Facebook Supreme Court" to be the ultimate arbiter of what could–and could not–be posted on the world's largest social network. Feldman sent his idea to Sheryl Sandberg last year and now Facebook is working on actually creating the independent oversight board. Mark Sullivan interviews the prof for Fast Company to get a little more detail about how the board will work. Feldman explains:

So imagine another Nancy Pelosi–like scenario and that Facebook has decided to leave it up. The board would then review that and, in a matter of a few hours, they would either say Facebook got it right, and here’s at least a preliminary statement of reasons, and then more to follow once we’ve had time to wipe our brow and write a good opinion. Or we look at this and say Facebook got it wrong, they did not follow their own values, and we’re directing them to reverse themselves. I think, without it being perfect—because the medium obviously is such that sometimes things happen even faster than a couple of hours—I think you still have the capacity to respond to emergent situations like that.


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I'm not the only one who just binge-watched the new third season of Netflix's Stranger Things. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, who you may recall runs his own Netflix rival, posted of his love for the show on Instagram. "Binged Stranger Things Season 3 yesterday with my kids and a few of their friends," Bezos wrote. "God, Eggos are good, and the show was even better. Awesome season." Couldn't agree more.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.