Bill Gurley: Venture Capital, Benchmark & Thought Leadership

1 minutes reading time
Published 15 Mar 2024
Author: Sami Osman
Reviewed by: Peter Westberg

With a career marked by futuristic investments, Gurley has played a pivotal role in shaping the big tech industry. His insights into network effects and scalable platforms have been instrumental in Benchmark’s thriving portfolio. After joining Benchmark Capital in 1999, his involvement in funding ventures like OpenTable (now owned by Booking Holdings), Zillow, and Uber have made Gurley a highly respected figure in Silicon Valley. Below, we’ll dive deeper into the philosophy of Gurley’s investing.

Key Insights

  • Investments in Disruptive Technologies: Gurley's strategic backing of OpenTable, Zillow, and Uber highlights his talent for identifying and supporting transformative technologies in an early stage.

  • Thought Leader: Gurley's impactful thought leadership, shared through blogs, interviews, and the BG2 podcast, shapes industry conversations on critical topics like market dynamics and profitability.

  • Corporate Governance Advocate: Beyond investments, Gurley's vocal advocacy for sound corporate governance enhances transparency and aligns shareholder and executive interests in the tech ecosystem.

  • Critical Stance on Burn Rates: Gurley challenges Silicon Valley norms with a 2015 Wall Street Journal critique, questioning the acceptance of

Early Roots and Academic Foundation

Bill Gurley studied Computer Science at the University of Florida and later earned an MBA from the University of Texas. The unique blend of technical knowledge and business thinking laid the groundwork for an impactful career. After his studies, Gurley landed a job at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners from where he is most known for recognizing the potential of online marketplaces, playing a crucial role in funding eBay.

Benchmark Capital and Innovative Investments

In 1999, Gurley joined Benchmark Capital, marking the beginning of a new chapter in his career. His involvement in funding transformative ventures like OpenTable and Zillow proved the ability of identifying technologies with disruptive potential. Benchmark's early investment in Uber, led by Gurley, became one of the more well recognized investments in Silicon Valley. Focused on market disruption and sustained growth, he places a premium on business models with good unit economics.

Further reading: Dara Khosrowshahi: The Visionary CEO Transforming Uber

Thought Leadership and Tech Podcasts

Beyond his role as a venture capitalist, Gurley stands as a respected thought leader. Sharing insights through blog posts and interviews, his perspectives on market dynamics, IPOs, and the importance of profitability have shaped industry discourse. Lately, he has appeared in All In Podcast episodes together with Jason Calacanis, Chamath Palihapitiya, David Sacks and David Friedberg. Early 2024, Gurley together with Brad Gerstner, founded their own tech focused podcast: BG2Pod.

Advocacy for Corporate Governance

Gurley's impact extends beyond individual investments. As a vocal proponent of sound corporate governance, he emphasizes the alignment of shareholder and executive interests. His efforts in promoting transparency and accountability contribute to the overall health of the tech ecosystem.

In an interview with Wall Street Journal in 2015 Gurley spoke about how the venture capital industry has become comfortable with high burn rates and the ease with which investors were willing to accept companies with big losses in Silicon Valley.

“Somehow we’ve gotten very comfortable with the 20 million dollar burn rate. Since when did that become okay? […] I think it’s crazy, and it’s happening all over the Valley.”


From Gurley’s early days at Hummer Winblad to his days at Benchmark Capital, he has proven the essence of being a true forward-thinking investor. As the tech industry evolves, his legacy serves as one of the more influential people of early stage investing. With the media picking up more of Gurley’s ideas on corporate governance and mental models on company valuation, we’re certain that the one hour of un-filtered tech talk on the BG2 podcast will be appreciated by many people in the industry.

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