A pitch meeting with Steve Jurvetson reveals how legendary VC operates

Steve Jurvetson

is the youthful partner at famed venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. He is among the most respected VCs in Silicon Valley, with a string of successful investments under his belt, including Hotmail (acquired by Microsoft, MSFT) and Interwoven (IPO, then acquired by Autonomy), among others. He has made billions of dollars for investors and is reputed to be among the smartest VCs in the world. He got his electrical engineering degree from Stanford in a mere 2.5 years, graduating No. 1 in his class.

He designed communications chips for HP, worked in marketing for Apple (AAPL) and NeXT, and served at the elite consulting group Bain & Company. Like many VC peers, he jumped from IT into greentech. Jurvetson currently sits on the boards of several hot cleantech startups, including Tesla Motors and Synthetic Genomics, which is why I recently buttonholed him at a conference for a Q&A. Jurvetson suggested I join him for lunch. I didn't realize lunch meant sitting in on an impromptu pitch session from a fledgling company, providing a fascinating, first-hand view of how the mind of one of the world's greatest VCs works in real time.