On the one hand, Nathan Myhrvold was smart enough to retire from MSFT before the stink of VIsta and its sundry monopolistic practices could tarnish his halo. On the other, the former Chief Technology Officer, a boy wonder and future Ph.D who started college at 14, hasn't exactly distinguished himself since then. He's been cooking, raising kids, and otherwise geeking out--like of like a lesser Paul Allen without the museum and Hendrix fetish. (He's kept the beard, however.)
But in his latest venture, the Bellevue patent investment fund Intellectual Ventures, The Wall Street Journal reports that Myhrvold ain't so smart. He's raised $5 billion to acquire patents; then, on the licensing side, he's recovered only $1 billion in fees. Um, if you were still working at Microsoft, Steve Ballmer would've fired you for those results.
Still, Myhrvold defends his investment acuity to the WSJ, saying:
"You wouldn't expect a fund to be profitable at this point. We're way ahead of all our expectations. When we started, people told us to pound sand and said this wouldn't work. Actually, it's working pretty good."
Twenty cents on the dollar, or a 1 to 5 return on investment? That's "pretty good"? Dude, if that's true, then I should only have to come to work on Wednesday, since the other four workdays apparently don't matter. No wonder that neither one of us works for Microsoft.