'60 Minutes': Tom Perkins: The captain of capitalism Video
'60 Minutes': Tom Perkins: The captain of capitalism Video Transcript
>>This is Tom Perkins' own personal mega yacht; the Maltese Falcon; the world's largest privately owned sailboat. What one magazine called a big boatload of ego.
>>Somebody has to have it, right?
>>Someone - - someone has to do this; why not me, right?
>>Why not me?
>>When I first saw the boat, it was moored off the coast of Italy.
>>Isn't she beautiful?
>>She's also a technological breakthrough. The mass stand 192 feet tall; weigh 25 tons each and are made of carbon fiber.
>>The B-1 Bomber is made out of carbon fiber except for the American Air Force. I've purchased the most carbon fiber of anybody ever.
>>On board, the boat is no less spectacular.
>>There you go; you're aboard.
>>Or over the top. On a scale of one to 10, it's a 12.
>>You know, I've never had the sense of how long the boat is until now.
>>Well, it's a typical football field size yacht, you know.
>>Inside there were two 1800 horse powered engines, 11,000 square feet of living space and his crew of 20 includes a gourmet chef and a team of stewards and stewardesses.
>>Keep that sugar away from me. So, here's the wheel house; come on in.
>>The wheel house or captain's bridge is command central for the boat's technicological wizardry.
>>This is my invention. This is my baby and - - and I'm going to teach you how to sail this boat.
>>Perkins designed the software himself for the computers that make sailing on the Falcon as easy as playing on a computer game.
>>Real simple; real simple.
>>You know the wheel a skipper uses to steer a boat, well the Falcon's is much smaller than that.
>>I'm going to turn this knob.
>>This knob turns the mass so that the wind signified by the yellow arrows, blows into the sails at the perfect angle.
>>Turn the mass like that.
>>And you're going to tell me when to sail.
>>Yeah, just keep going - - keep going.
>>Yeah, I'll keep shifting.
>>A little more. You're about there. Okay. You like that? Okay. Say start.
>>And it's doing it.
>>Cause we see the mass is turning.
>>Next he showed me how to unfurl the boat's 15 sails. A job that would take about 80 deckhands an hour on a traditional sailboat, all it takes on the Falcon is five minutes and the touch of screen.
>>Let's go sailing.
>>Let's go sailing.
>>And just like that, the sails housed inside those hallow carbon fiber mass begin to unfurl; all 26,000 square feet of them. That's over a half an acres worth of sail.
>>Okay. That wasn't to hard, was it.
>>The Maltese Falcon embodies all the grandeur of a 19th century clipper ship. It's also the biggest, fastest and most high tech sailboat on the high seas; a triumph of science, vision and money.
>>So, how much did it cost you?
>>[Laughs] Rule of thumb Leslie is, a big yacht costs about a million dollars a meter.
>>And how many meters are we talking about?
>>We're 88 meters.
>>I know it cost more than 88 million. I've heard about a hundred fifty million but I've also hear three hundred million.
>>No, not three hundred million.
>>Okay, that's too much.
>>That's too much.
>>Why don't - - why don't you tell us? You've told us everything else but you don't seem to be embarrassed about everything else.
>>[Laughs] I'm embarrassed about that.
>>About how much it costs?
>>There's the homeless and charity and there's lots of things you could do with that money that would improve the world, right?
>>Oh, good point that you're brining up yourself. Wow.
>>Yeah, so, you know, how selfish is this guy I guess is the criticism. So, the answer is pretty selfish but I'm just not going to put a number on it.
>>Why did it have to be the biggest boat?
>>Leslie, I could give you some technical reasons on why. It's really got to be big to work right but I just wanted the biggest boat; let's - - let's admit it. [Laughs]
>>It's ego. What - - I mean...
>>It's - - it's - - do I have an ego; yes.
>>We know that already.
>>Is it big; yes. [Laughs]
>>Whatever it is, he can certainly afford it. After making his name and fortune in venture capitalism which he chronicles in his memoir, Valley Boy, The Education of Tom Perkins. It is a candid account of his life. His second marriage to romance novelist Danielle Steele, a manslaughter conviction in a boating accident in France and the deals that made him so wealthy starting with the first biotech company, Ganentech [assumed spelling], here in San Francisco. He and his partners launched an antech in 1976 with nothing more than a check book and an idea.
>>The idea was to trick nature into letting us make something that didn't exist in nature. In particular, human insulin.
>>Ganentech's success lead to new ways of treating everything from diabetes to dwarfism and to getting rich. Perkins' initial investment of 250 thousand dollars soared 800 fold to 200 million.
>>That's what venture capitalist are created to do and you can blame converting the orchards of Silicon Valley into parking lots partly on me and partly on Ganentech because we proved that this kind of high risk, high tech adventure capital could be an enormous homerun and everybody wanted to get in on it including lots of entrepreneurs and that's what got this whole Silicon Valley engine rolling in my opinion.
>>And it took somebody like Perkins with a background of science to figure it out. He got an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School and yet he says only two out of about every 10 of his projects resulted in a homerun.
>>When you think about putting as much money as you have to into these projects...
>>You - - you'd think you'd get an ulcer or you'd burn out early.
>>I remember one of our investor says, Tom how do you - - how do you live with this and I said well Henry, it's your money. [Laughs]
>>Perkins is now a partner of meridis [assumed spelling] with the firm he founded 35 years ago. He seemed about ready to sail off into the sunset when suddenly two years ago at age 74, his life and legacy took a controversial turn. As a member of Hewlett Packard's Board of Directors, he played a role in the 2005 sacking of Carly Feearena [assumed spelling], the computer giant's CEO and a year later, the alster of it's chairman of the board, Patty Dunn. They both went public on 60 Minutes and in separate interviews, accused him of engineering their dismissals.
>>Is it possible that part of the problem was that you just couldn't accept that the - - there were women in control here?
>>Now this is a serious question.
>>I realize it's a serious questions and I also realize that I'm going to be accused of he hates women and he fires them or he can't stand them or whatever. You know - - you know maybe...
>>Not hates women but just can't stand that their in control; that their in charge; that kind of thing.
>>I just don't think that's true at all. I mean, up until Carly, all those few that I've had to fire have been men.
>>He denies he engineered Carly Feearena's firing but he acknowledges he engaged in a test of wills with board chairman Patty Dunn. At a crucial meeting, Perkins got so mad at her that he resigned from the board loosing his legendary temper.
>>You just slammed your briefcase cover and walked out; I mean, that sounds like a hissy fit of some kind.
>>[Laughs] I - - I was angry. There's no question.
>>So you respond - - it was like a little mini-tantrum.
>>Well, it was - - it was 90 minutes of - - of very intense debate. I would say I was emotional more than angry although that's maybe the same thing.
>>After he resigned, by his own admission, he waged a behind the scenes campaign to get Dunn removed as chairman of the board. Dunn calls it a vendetta to tarnish her reputation.
>>You have enough money and you're willing to spend enough, you can buy and sell somebody's reputation and you're charging that's what he's done.
>>That is what he did.
>>How much do you hate her?
>>I don't hate her.
>>Come on. I know you couldn't stand her.
>>I disagreed profoundly with...
>>You told someone...
>>...the direction she was pulling Hewlett Packard.
>>You told someone I know; I can't stand to breath the same air she breaths. You know, that sounds like you really ate her.
>>I don't recall saying that.
>>When Perkins resigned from the HP board, he ended a long association with the company.
>>Do you miss being on the HP board?
>>Yes. I miss being on the HP board. Maybe I made a - - made a mistake in resigning as I did.
>>Do you regret it?
>>Yes, I regret it.
>>He's moved on though. Today he's a member of the board of Rupert Murdock's News Corp and there are a few pleasures that money can buy that he denies himself or that he doesn't like to show off.
>>Let's go through the Tom Perkins litany. You used to own the world's most expensive sports car collection.
>>The best; maybe the most expensive. [Laughs]
>>Okay. You currently own a Bentley, a 450 thousand Porsche Carrera [assumed spelling] GT, an Austin Martin, the Maltese Falcon, and a second yacht; who needs two yachts. Well, we won't go into that. You own a 900 year old mooted estate in England and I'm only telling what we know about you so you do like to show off.
>>Guilty as charged. [Laughs]
>>Okay. Analyze that for us. Why do you have to have the biggest and the first and - - what is that?
>>You know, I'm no psychiatrist but it probably comes from my childhood and the attitude of my parents.
>>An only child, Perkins grew up during the depression which he says devastated his father and distorted his mother's priorities.
>>My mother wanted things in life that my father couldn't provide that were bought by money. The fact that we didn't have any money was very, very evident always in my life.
>>Cause she talked about it and she made it clear...
>>She talked about it all the time.
>>And so he cares about money and he likes to spend it. This is his latest project; his very own sport submarine; his newest high-tech toy which he'll park on the forward deck of the Maltese Falcon. If you've got it, flaunt it and poke fun at yourself as he does when he dresses up his yacht with flags and pennants each of which, in sailor speak, represents a letter of the alphabet.
>>What does it say?
>>Yeah, Leslie, starting from the bow...
>>It says - - really says, it's rarely does one have the privilege of witnessing vulgar ostentation displayed upon such a scale.
>>So your saying it yourself before anyone else can say it.
>>Before anybody else can say it, I've said it.
>>Self protection here. ^M00:11:51 [ Ticking ] ^M00:11:55
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