Paul T. Buchheit - Innovation Makes Perfect

Paul Buchheit

Innovation and free thinking are guiding principles for Paul Buchheit.

His work at Y Combinator and the many angel investments which he nurtures are a testimony to his application of these principles in daily life.

In addition to being a successful investor and programmer, Paul gives talks and writes elaborately about how to succeed in the investment world and about economic inequality

Career

150 rd
Employee at Google

Top Investors

200
In Silicon Valley (2012)

* Stats taken from Forbes.com. 

Funded

150 +
Companies

About Paul Buchheit

Paul T. Buchheit grew up in Webster, New York. He completed his studies in Computer Science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and began his successful career shortly thereafter. After Bucheit had completed his education, he began an internship with Microsoft in 1995. He then started working at Intel but quickly moved on to become Google’s 23rd employee in 1999. During his time at Google, Paul came up with the idea for Gmail, a free email service that is arguably Google’s most successful product, with nearly half a billion registered users worldwide. Similar attempts to create a Java-based program were made before and failed, but it was Paul’s innovative and out-of-the-box thinking that allowed him to accomplish what no one before him has, and provide the world with what many consider today as a basic necessity.

Before Gmail was launched, there were already various email services providers, including Microsoft, who only offered a limited amount of space as small as 4 MB. Buchheit stated that every email service was worsening over the years. The limited storage space these services provided caught his eye. Planning for Gmail began long before it was announced. Development started in 2001 and in 2004 it was finally launched. It boasted a 1000 MB storage limit, a fast and dynamic interface, and quick and accurate searching which included the concept of organized emails. But Gmail was not his only groundbreaking contribution to Google. Buchheit also prompted the company’s AdSense program, Google’s second biggest revenue resource, and coined the company’s famous motto “don’t be evil”.

In 2006 Paul Buchheit decided to leave Google and pursue a more independent career route. Only one year after he left the company he founded FriendFeed, a real-time service that allows users to share links, messages, photos, and other information online. FriendFeed’s success attracted the attention of Facebook, which acquired it in 2009. In 2010, Paul joined Y Combinator, a venture capital firm that provides funding, advice, and networking opportunities to promising startups in exchange for equity. However this move merely provided a home for what Buchheit had already been doing successfully independently: between 2006 and 2009, before joining Y Combinator, he invested USD$1.21 million in 32 different companies.

“Do What You Love”

Paul Buchheit Speaking at Y Combinator Startup School
Paul Buchheit, Y Combinator Startup School

Innovation and free thinking are guiding principles for Paul Buchheit.  His work at Y Combinator and the many angel investments which he nurtures are a testimony to his application of these principles in daily life. In addition to being a successful investor and programmer, Paul gives talks and writes elaborately about how to succeed in the investment world and about economic inequality. Through Facebook, Twitter, and similar social networks, he takes an active part in informing people who are not familiar with the nuances of the finance and investment world about the different opportunities out there. He encourages startup companies stating that they are more than simply a quick way to get money. By the time he had started Y Combinator, he had already invested in 83 startups through angel investments, supporting innovative businesses with their startups.

Philanthropy

In 2009, Buchheit set up Google Moderator to crowdsource ideas for the causes (501(c)3 non-profits) should benefit from his financial support. To quote him:

In terms of which causes I’d like to support, I’d consider anything, but am probably most sympathetic to health, freedom, and education. In terms of solutions, I’m very skeptical of centralization, one-size-fits-all solutions, and people who are certain of the answer. I also prefer to support things that have tangible, objective outcomes (where you could say, ‘this money was used to purchase X’ or ‘this money was used to fund study Y, which will be published this fall.’).

Additionally, since the death of his 33-year-old-brother who died from pancreatic cancer, Buchheit has donated to several health organizations.

Paul Buchheit’s World View

Buchheit has stated that he believes the technology and resources humans possess are enough to ensure adequate food, education, housing, and healthcare for everyone, while only using a partial amount of labor and resources available.

He implies in his view that there is a way to put an end to wage slavery. The following is a quote from a portion of the talk he gave at Y Combinator’s Startup School:

“We often talk about how brilliant or visionary Steve Jobs was, but there are probably millions of people just as brilliant as he was. The difference is that they likely didn’t grow up with great parents, amazing teachers, and an environment where innovation was the norm. Also they didn’t live down the street from Steve Wozniak.

Economically, we don’t need more jobs. We need more Steve Jobs. When we set everyone free, we enable the outliers everywhere. The result will be an unprecedented boom in human creativity and ingenuity.“

Where Is He Today?

Paul Buchheit with a brown horse

Today, Buchheit continues to mentor and guide his pool of angel investments, which constitutes around 40 startup companies. Simultaneously, he continues to work at Y Combinator, and has an estimated net worth of USD$600 million. Recognition for Bucheit’s success and contribution to the world of entrepreneurship and private investments came in 2011, when he won The Economist Innovation Award in the field of Computing and Telecommunications.

Paul lives in Palo Alto, California, with his wife April Buchheit.

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