Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Kara Visits Elevation Partners' Roger McNamee (With No Bono)

So, in getting back into the swing of things, I have been paying visits to various and sundry players around the Web industry, and there’s probably no better place to land than in the offices of Roger McNamee, a voluble longtime investor in the sector.

His newest private equity investment firm, Elevation Partners, has $1.9 billion to dole out and U2 rock legend Bono as one of its partners (and who apparently works from Dublin). So far, its investment team has been using that cash up at places like business magazine Forbes, the real-estate site Move.com and several gaming companies.

McNamee calls Elevation like a “midlife VC fund,” looking particularly at sectors like business, women, sports, real estate and any place on the Internet “where there are real content gaps.”

elevation

I talked to McNamee about the Forbes investment, for example, which was greeted as an unusual move. The Web site is a main focus of McNamee’s interest, as it attracts huge traffic and is seeking to have a much broader impact in the business-news space than its print origins. McNamee thinks it could become even more of a global business brand.

In addition, he had some thoughts about the ubiquitous browser, which he called a “Rube Goldberg device, except with rust.” He called on Microsoft–if it really wanted to be bold–to “obsolete the browser and really do the Web without it.”

Noting that the software giant was “running out of chances to influence the outcome” of the tech industry, he thought Microsoft could reinvigorate itself by “making business applications look like consumer ones, where the real innovation is now taking place.”

He had other thoughts, of course, including a suggestion that Yahoo stop focusing on search monetization and pay attention to its other assets and contemplate how and when current tech darling Google could stumble (“but not for a while,” he noted, given their still exploding ad business).

But here’s a taste of McNamee from another little video I made:


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik