We recently wrote a column in the Merc about our meeting with JotSpot founder Joe Kraus. But we forgot to mention a little story that might help explain why Kraus is working so hard on his intriguing little company. It may be because he feels he didn’t take enough chances during his first venture, the search portal, Excite.
In his blog, he tells the story about how he and his venture backer, Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins, hit the men’s bathroom up at Microsoft while negotiating a deal for Excite. Standing slightly hunched at the urinal, was a man dressed in a sweater, Bill Gates.
“Holy shit” I said to myself. “It’s Bill Gates.” Imagine you’re facing three urinals. Bill taken the right-most. Vinod takes centerfield and I’m out in left. Vinod looks over at Bill. “Hey Bill”. Bill looks back at Vinod “Hey Vinod, who are you here with today?”
Kraus then goes on to say that he suffered complete urinal performance anxiety, and basically froze, not knowing the appropriate bathroom etiquette.
I had a massive internal struggle. Do I reach over the urinal barriers to extend a handshake to Bill? What would he do if I did?….What did I do? I said hello and then stood there silently not knowing what to do or say. Shortly thereafter, Bill finished up, backed away from the urinal, washed his hands and left. “Bye Vinod.” I should have shaken his hand.
It’s a cute story, one that clearly talks to missed chances. Kraus didn’t get any venture capital funding this time from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. (In September, we wrote about JotSpot’s recent venture backing from Redpoint and Mayfield here.) Maybe that’s why he was free to tell his little story. It’s rare that an entrepreneur is so open about his potty meetings. We hope Kraus can keep up his blog, because he told us it’s hard to keep finding fresh things to say. We’re sure he’ll find something, especially when JotSpot gets big enough for negotiations at Redmond.