John William Gurley
May 10, 1966
|Alma mater||University of Florida|
University of Texas
|Known for||Investing, general partner at Benchmark|
Bill Gurley (John William Gurley) (born May 10, 1966) is a 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.
Education and early career
Gurley was born in Dickinson, Texas, outside of Houston, on May 10, 1966. Gurley graduated from the University of Florida in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science. While at the University of Florida, he was a member of the men’s basketball team. Gurley received his MBA from the University of Texas in 1993.
Prior to his investment career, Gurley was a design engineer at Compaq Computer, where he worked on products such as the 486/50 and Compaq's first multi-processor server. Before Compaq, he worked in the technical marketing group of Advanced Micro Devices' embedded processor division. With both a financial and engineering background he “has a way of sizing things up that makes him both intriguing and highly quotable."
Before joining Benchmark in 1999, Gurley was a partner at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. He had also spent four years on Wall Street as a research analyst, including three years at CS First Boston. He was considered “one of Wall Street’s premier technology analysts." He covered companies including Dell, Compaq and Microsoft and was the lead analyst on the Amazon.com IPO.
At Benchmark, Gurley has led investments in and holds board seats on Brighter, DogVacay, Good Eggs, GrubHub, HackerOne, Linden Lab, LiveOps, Nextdoor, OpenTable, Sailthru, Scale Computing, Stitch Fix, Vessel, and Zillow.
Previous investments have included: Avamar Technologies (acquired by EMC Corporation), Business.com (acquired by R.H. Donnelley), Clicker.com (acquired by CBS Interactive), Demandforce (acquired by Intuit), Employease (acquired by Automatic Data Processing), JAMDAT Mobile (acquired by Electronic Arts), Nordstrom.com (acquired by Nordstrom), Shopping.com (acquired by eBay), The Knot, Uber, and Vudu (acquired by Walmart).
With the economic collapse in the fall of 2008, Gurley garnered attention when he sent a letter to his portfolio companies, advising CEOs to exercise caution in spending but to look for and take advantage of opportunities that become available during harsh economic times. In a 2015 interview Gurley said of private tech investing, "It’s my belief that Silicon Valley and the venture-backed businesses have moved into a world that is both speculative and unsustainable." Gurley’s warnings, and post on his personal blog, Above the Crowd, on venture capital spending, have been widely discussed in the industry. He also advises family offices to be careful before investing in unicorn companies.
In March 2016, Gurley was named VC of the Year at TechCrunch’s annual Crunchies awards.
Gurley left Uber's board of directors in June 2017. The announcement was released one day after the company announced the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick following months of controversy over Uber's corporate culture. An advisor for Uber during allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment, Gurley was reportedly instrumental in the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick.
Gurley reportedly had a close relationship with CEO Travis Kalanick. He was Uber’s most engaged board member and the closest thing Mr. Kalanick has to a consigliere. Gurley shared his support for Kalanick on Twitter, stating "There will be many pages in the history books devoted to @travisk - very few entrepreneurs have had such a lasting impact on the world."
Gurley is known for his above average height; he is 6’9”. The title of his blog, Above the Crowd, and the book eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists that profiles the Benchmark team, both reference his height; the subtitle of eBoys is “The true story of the six tall men who backed eBay, Webvan, and other billion-dollar start-ups."
Gurley is on the advisory council of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas and is a board member at KIPP Bay Area Schools. He is married with three children and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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- How To Survive Great Depression 2.0 Without Firing Everyone article by Henry Blodget on Business Insider October 17, 2008, accessed March 16, 2015
- How Tech Start-ups Plan on Getting By
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- markmilian, Mark Milian. "VC Bill Gurley Tells Startups to Beware of 'Dirty' Fundraising Terms". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
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- Amazon.com: eBoys: The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work: Randall E. Stross: Books
- Randall E. Stross, eBoys : The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work. (New York: Ballantine Books, 2000). ISBN 0-345-42889-7.