komisar.jpgKleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capital firms, has hired veteran serial entrepreneur — and zen buddhist — Randy Komisar as its latest partner.

Here’s our story (or here) about the hire. Komisar, 50, is known as the “Virtual CEO” for his help in getting technology start-ups like TiVo, WebTV and Palm off the ground, taking equity instead of an official management role. Additionally, here are some interesting factoids about Komisar, and some better-known quotes from his great book, The Monk and the Riddle, published in 2000.

His appointment…

monk.jpg…is part of an effort by Kleiner Perkins to bolster its bullpen of partners who can work together in teams with entrepreneurs. If follows Kleiner’s recent hiring of Sun co-founder Bill Joy.

The book is worth reading. In Komisar’s prologue to the first edition of The Monk, he takes us with him on his wild motorcycle ride across an arid Burma, and tells how he finds himself on this quixotic mission shuttling a young monk to and from a temple at Mount Popa. When an older monk at the Mount tells Komisar to turn around and take the younger monk back on yet another trip-without-purpose, a frustrated Komisar asks why. The Monk gives him a riddle: “Imagine I have an egg, and I want to drop this egg three feet without breaking it. How do I do that?” Riding another dusty 100 miles, as his impatience slowly fades into a newly found awe for his surroundings, Komisar says the answer comes to him.

The answer, it seems, is that it’s all about the trip — not obsessing about destination. But only in the “postmortem” or preface to the 2001 second edition, do we get the second part of the answer. There, we find Komisar riding his bicycle across Bhutan and visiting an eighty-year old lama. When he gets a rare chance to ask the lama a question, Komisar asks the lama what question still perplexed him. The lama responds, through a translator, that “he doesn’t understand why people are not kinder to each other.” A page later, Komisar finally provides an addendum to the riddle answer: “The answer lies not in dollars and cents, but in who we are and what we believe.”