USA, 2011, 84 min
One day in 1957 a Wall Street brokerage firm received a strange letter from a group of men who would come to be known as “the traitorous eight.” Scientists and engineers at Shockley Semiconducter, frustrated with William Shockley’s “confusing and demoralizing management,” wanted to offer their services as a group to another company. A young banker who traveled to California to meet them had a better idea. What followed would usher in an era characterized by new terms like “venture capital” and “start-up company” and new names like Apple, Intel, Cisco Systems and Silicon Valley. Beginning with the crew-cut techies of the late ’50s, Something Ventured tells the story of the engineers, inventors and capitalists who joined forces to change the landscape of American technology and finance. Directors Dan Geller and Dayna Goldline use interviews and vintage footage to set outsize personalities against the shifting images of recent history, spiced with the conflicts inevitable when financial and computer mavericks interact. “(Steve) Jobs is a national treasure,” observes Arthur Rock, who helped launch Intel, Apple, Teledyne and Scientific Data Systems. “He’s so visionary, so bright. I had to fire him, though.” “[Venture capitalist Tom Perkins] had to take me to buy a suit,” remembers Jimmy Treybig, founder of Tandem Computers. “He always said he could buy the suit, but that still didn’t help.” This intriguing documentary reveals the origins, the risks, the triumphs and the failures behind many of the high-tech and financial giants who created the world we now live in.
This is a Cinema by the Bay film. Special support for this program generously provided by Margaret and Will Hearst, and by Visionary Circle members Julie, Wally and Walter Haas. Presented in association with Computer History Museum and Western Association of Venture Capitalists.