In junior high, in Illinois, before he knew anyone else who had a personal computer, Warren got to play Lemonade Stand on his uncle Bob’s Commodore PET. At thirteen, he attended a computer trade show in Chicago: “I didn’t even know what I was looking at,” he says. “But it was cool. It piqued my curiosity profoundly.”
In high school, Warren sought out a friend who could teach him all the workings of computers. After he graduated as his school’s valedictorian, Warren went to Stanford to study engineering and business. Then he became a venture capitalist, backing such fledgling firms as Skype, Hotmail, and Tesla (and turning down the founders of Theranos, one of Silicon Valley’s legendary frauds).
Ten years ago, he says, “I did a very Silicon Valley thing”: he called a few of his industry pals to launch Thuuz, a service that creates highlights of sporting events in real time. He runs the company out of a bungalow in Palo Alto, adjacent to his house-just a block away from the garage where Hewlett-Packard began.
Warren’s company is small, and while he wants it to be successful, he doesn’t strive to make it one of Silicon Valley’s giants. “Many of those companies are huge because they are willing to cross some lines,” he says-ethical, moral lines.
“Steve Jobs was irascible,” he says, “Jobs was tough, Jobs was rude.” But, says Warren, thanks to the iPhone, billions of people in India and China now have access to information. “I put Steve Jobs above that line and say, ‘Yeah, he could have been a jerk, but he’s above that line.”
Warren feels differently about Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. “He has broken some massive, massive rules,” he says. “He is completely abusing his users.” Facebook has “corrupted our election. They corrupted Brexit, over in Europe. They’ve destroyed minorities in Asia… They are below the line, below the line. Absolutely, below the line.”