Another Silicon Valley Bigshot Picks Sides

Venture capitalist John Doerr leaves Amazon.com's board of directors

By Jackson West
|  Thursday, Mar 18, 2010  |  Updated 2:45 PM PDT
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Another Silicon Valley Bigshot Picks Sides

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John Doerr, a venture capitalist who serves on the board of Apple and Amazon.com, spoke at an Apple event. The companies are less cooperative these days.

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If the departure of venture capitalist John Doerr from Amazon's board of directors is any indication, the business in electronic books is about to get serious.

Doerr, one of the executives at firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, remains on the board of Google, another company he backed in the 1990s.

Picking sides is becoming more common in a once-cooperative Silicon Valley. Google CEO Eric Schmidt quit Apple's board last August, as the two companies started to compete more in the smartphone business.

Now all three companies -- Google, Apple, and Amazon.com -- are competing with each other more and more.

It's a signal that the business in electronic books is getting serious, as Amazon.com, which produces the Kindle reading device and marketplace, is worried about the Google Books scanning efforts and persistent rumors that the Google is working on a tablet device.

Apple is set to start selling its iPad tablet next month, and is launching its own online bookstore as well. Amazon recently expanded its Kindle offering to Macintosh computers. The company had already released a version of the reading software for the iPhone.

Doerr cited time constraints, a frequent and anodyne reason given for board departures, and Amazon has said that it is "pleased with the current makeup of the board," though didn't rule out adding more directors.

Schmidt's earlier membership on both Apple and Google's board was cited as one of the possible reasons that the Federal Trade Commission has been investing anti-trust complaints about the companies. No one launched such complaints about Doerr's presence on Google and Amazon.com's board -- but had he stayed, it might only have been a matter of time.

Jackson West has not preordered any iPads.

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